The most irritating part about missing the two most important people in his life falling off the bandwagon was that he'd been forewarned.
At Christmas John had said that Harry was doing well, and Sherlock had quite clearly told him that he was wrong. John hadn't really wanted to think about it and had instead opted for ignoring the fact that Sherlock had laid out the facts for him.
After that he'd been so caught up in Sherlock and the business with Irene Adler that Harry's decline had washed completely over his head, until he began to notice the size of Sherlock's pupils and the constant, ever present thoughts about addiction were pushing in on his mind until he was seeing them everywhere.
He hadn't known how to broach the subject with Sherlock at first and, anyway, he was sure that there'd been one or two single incidents of relapse whilst he'd been in the flat, and maybe Sherlock would manage to pull himself out of this whilst they both pretended that John was ignorant. He'd convinced himself that everything was going to be fine for a little while but he wasn't sure to the extent of that he'd ever believed, but accepting that Sherlock was using again was accepting everything that meant.
John Watson wasn't about to let a junkie onto a crime scene if he knew about it, even if the former mentioned junkie was his flatmate and best friend. Other half, really.
Then Sherlock had said that Harry had stopped going to AA meetings and that addiction had hit him full in the face too, and then he had busted both of them for it, had both of them hating him for the withdrawal, then when he finally had Sherlock almost fit for work Harry had gotten herself in a bloody drunk driving accident in the middle of the flaming school run.
She wasn't seriously hurt, but her leg was still in plaster and she kept nagging him to visit.
Whilst Sherlock wasn't really known for being the most sympathetic of beings (self diagnosed high functioning sociopath and all), he usually made an effort when something like this happened. After he found out about the break up with Sarah he'd gone out and brought him beer – a meaningless gesture in real terms, but from Sherlock that was flowers and a necklace – and then whenever there was news about fatalities in Afghanistan, Sherlock dragged him out to his favourite restaurant for a meal. He did small, practical things that meant more than any grand gesture of sympathy or commiserations ever could, which was why he wanted Sherlock to deduced it all out of him so he didn't have to say, so he'd have said something nice instead of telling him that his prejudice against addictions had led to people dying.
He needed a case to distract himself.
There was a possibility that he wasn't entirely honest when he'd told Lestrade that Sherlock was ready for a case, because the mid-case-meal and the very little Sherlock had managed to do was setting off all the alarms bells in his head; he wasn't ready and here John was dragging him through it simply because he didn't want to talk about his sister, or alcohol, or deal with any of it.
When he stepped in the kitchen to make himself a compulsory cup of tea John noted that his half empty beer had been thrown away.
John Watson crossed the kitchen and glanced in the recycling. Sherlock hadn't bothered emptying the bottle before throwing it in the green box with the rest of the jars and bottles but, by the look of the crack running down its length, he'd definitely thrown the bottle with considerable force. He'd take not smoking in the flat as an apology and an almost smashed bottle of beer as a sign of regret, and whilst that wasn't the hug he'd been dying for since that last phone call to Harry it would most definitely do.
Sherlock was too quiet.
John was just considering blogging about how living with Sherlock was like being responsible of a particularly intelligent toddler. Recently, a couple of his old school friends had starting having children and, on the rare occasion he managed to make time between murders, the visits and his parents describing parenthood reminded him a lot of his own situation; the perpetual worry, the constant questioning of whether certain behaviour was okay or something to really worry about, disrupted sleeping patterns, trying to provide food and trying to ensure it was eaten... the more his tired old best friend prattled on about his two year old the more John was thinking I know how that feels.
He opted against suggesting there were similarities between a cocaine addict and their pride and joy, but didn't think it would make a bad blog entry. Then he started thinking about examples he could use and got slightly fixated on the fact that, usually, case-Sherlock was one that prattled on about things and generally seemed to be doing something productive with his time or, otherwise, at least insulted him and told him to shut up every few minutes.
And there was nothing.
As far as John was aware there'd been zero progress on the Vincent case (and, from his point of view, there was zero progress on thinking of a witty blog title either) and the photo's of his smashed in head or Vincent's apartment had not yet graced the walls. Sherlock had simply spent an uncharacteristic length of time in his room; his usual disregard for respect of property did not stretch to his bedroom, which was a near-sacred land, barely used as a sleeping space, barely occupied and most definitely not to be disrupted by the experiments and test tubes and the clutter that ran rampant everywhere else.
Sherlock rarely even slept in his room, instead opting for passing out on the sofa or –on that memorable occasion – John's room. So for him to have spent the whole morning in his room and –
He hadn't even a cigarette.
Unless Sherlock wasn't in and then... well then he could be anywhere and that was definitely not good and... why the hell hadn't John thought about this earlier? He'd been sat thinking about his stupid blog when Sherlock could be dead in his room or shooting up in some alley or just... well, with Sherlock there wasn't exactly an end to the possibilities of what horrible things could have happened or be happening.
"Sherlock?" John called, trying to stop his voice from relaying the fact that he was really panicking. He rapped on the door to Sherlock's room – feeling oddly like he was imposing, despite the fact that Sherlock really couldn't give a shit about his personal boundaries – and taking a deep breath. It wouldn't be an issue if Mycroft hadn't gone awol and Sherlock hadn't been using again, but – "Sherlock?"
"What?" Sherlock demanded, door swinging open, face twisted into the sort of expression that bordered on frightening.
John stared at him for a few seconds before taking a step backwards. Obviously, Sherlock was not in a good mood today.
"Tea?" John suggested. He'd just had a cup – which Sherlock probably knew – but he didn't fancy admitting he was knocking on Sherlock's door to make sure that they hadn't fallen into a double dip relapse. He probably knew though. Stupid bastard.
"I was wondering if you wanted tea."
"Don't lie," Sherlock spat, throwing open the door, "it's transparent and annoying."
"Busy." Sherlock said.
"Did you want tea then?"
"Inadequate." Sherlock muttered, falling into the sofa with his expression fixed in a straight line. The relief that Sherlock wasn't dead didn't quite succumb to the irritation that he was still an irksome git, but it lessened the blow slightly. That was probably one of the differences between Sherlock and a toddler – a more acute ability to walk, stronger tendency towards illicit substances and more sheer rudeness was involved.
"Ah, bad mood then," John said, pressing his finger to his temple, "excellent. I'll just assume everything I'm going to do today is wrong and move on, shall I?"
"What was the point of your little google search if you retain nothing of the little information those stupid websites make up?" Sherlock asked, pulling his knees up towards his chest, limbs all at tight angles, face twisted into displeasure.
"Withdrawal," John said, "right. You can talk to me, you know Sherlock."
"No," Sherlock said, "I can't, John, because whilst you are not utterly useless you've never had an addiction therefore you cannot possibly understand. So, why don't we talk about something else, you say, because, John, I can't think about anything else, can't concentrate on anything because if I don't..." Sherlock stopped sharply and tensed his shoulders slightly, "John, I need to borrow some money."
"Sherlock," John said, lips pursing, "I'm not funding your drug addiction."
"Cigarettes, John, cigarettes."
"You have money," John said, staring at him, "you were born into money. You don't care about money. You don't charge people for your work. Your cost costs more money than I've spent on all coats I've ever own since I was six."
"Mycroft," Sherlock muttered, "for some benign and ridiculous reason, mummy did not deem me responsible at eighteen to look after my own finances. Mycroft, I suspect, had something to do with that decision, and then after university and rehab some idiotic doctor suggested that having access to large quantities of money would lessen the reality of the consequences of being a cocaine addict, thus leading to Mycroft setting up an entire office to vet the spending on my debit card."
"Sherlock, you never mentioned any of this."
"Yes, well," Sherlock said irritably, "after you he let up and stopped being so moronic, but a few text messages from yours truly – oh, Sherlock's high again, please make his life more difficult – and now I cannot buy anything whatsoever."
"Nothing," Sherlock muttered, irritably, "as ever, my brother is trying to make a point whilst missing the point entirely."
"Bills," John said, "Sherlock, we have bills. God, I'm going to have to get a job. More than a job, I need to win the sodding lottery. Sherlock, have you been cut off for a month? Did you not think to mention this to me?"
"Unimportant? Mrs Hudson? Our landlady who counts on the fact that we pay our rent to keep her in stock of tea and biscuits? Mrs Hudson is not unimportant."
"She's our House keeper," Sherlock corrected distractedly, "Bills are covered. Even Mycroft concedes that being homeless isn't beneficial to a cocaine addict. Anyway, John, if anything you owe me money."
"Really," John said, shaking his head slightly, "how does that work out?"
"Oh, please, you think you've actually been paying half the rent? You might have refused to take Mycroft's money to spy on me, but Mycroft gets what Mycroft wants. I think he partially gets some kick out of the fact that Mrs Hudson doesn't notice he's paying twice the amount she asks for and that you are too unobservant to notice that your now about a thousand up to what you're supposed to be. He sent your sister a birthday present after I refused to purchase anything. I'm not even going to start on Lestrade's Christmas bonuses. It feeds his sense of superiority to hack into all your bank accounts."
"Or maybe," John said, "he's just looking after you?"
"Looking after me?" Sherlock hissed, "yes, he's awfully caring."
"Next time I see your brother, I'm going to bloody kill him." Sherlock glanced up at him. "Good god, Sherlock, he's bleeding ridiculous. All of that egotistical nonsense, big brother is watching you – literally – and continually acting as though you're about to relapse. At Christmas he was all too happy to insist I search through your sock draw and not take my eyes off you because you accepted a bloody cigarette which, really, isn't that much worse than nicotine patches. And now I inform him of a cocaine problem and his answer to support is to block your credit cards and disappear for a month with no word."
"No word to you, maybe," Sherlock said darkly, "and as touching as this tirade is, I'm really only here for the money."
"You know my pin."
"I'm not pick pocketing you, John."
John paused slightly feeling a little bit bemused. He'd actually assumed that Sherlock would have no qualms about simply taking his money like he did with everything else John owned – the laptop and the phone as top offenders – and had more or less started thinking of their finances as joint, anyway. They shared a flat and a sort of job, and it wasn't like Sherlock had ever voluntarily done the shopping himself. Their lives were most definitely too entangled to start working out who owed who what and John had taken that as a given; they might as well merge their bank accounts, for all the difference it would make. And if more expenses had been redirected onto John's card, Mycroft apparently made up the difference.
"The what's mine is yours rule that seems to exist within this flat stretches to cards," John said, nodding towards his wallet, "I thought that was a given."
Sherlock paused slightly. He looked awful and John was entirely sure that, whatever he'd been doing in his bedroom, it most definitely hadn't involved sleeping or any form of rest. Sherlock often looked like the walking dead, though, and particularly in the past few weeks when the effects of excessive cocaine usage was obvious. His whole dreaded appearance had been topped off by an almost aggressively despondent frown and eyes narrowed to the point of ridiculous.
"We're not a couple, John." Sherlock said with an almost smile.
"Piss off," John grinned, "and get some bloody milk, would you?"
"John," Sherlock said, bursting into the flat with his eyes wide –although not in that way – "we need to talk to Rachit Jain."
"Did you get the milk?" John asked, reaching for his coat on automatic whilst still debating whether or not it was advisable or possible to pull Sherlock off the case. Probably not. Even if it had taken however many cigarettes it had taken to get him to actually engage with the problem, it was better than a Sherlock hauled up in his room and actually relaying important information to him.
Sherlock didn't answer the question about the milk, so John took that as a 'of course not' and moved on.
"Did you actually get somewhere with the case whilst sulking in your room this morning then?" John pressed onwards, reaching for his phone in wake of a highly impatient Sherlock.
"I don't sulk." Sherlock said, stopping in his track to stare at John.
"Yes, you do."
"I do not sulk."
"Nope," John said, "not playing the do too game with you."
"I was not sulking."
"What do you call it then?"
"I was avoiding you." Sherlock said, his scarf still wrapped around his neck from his previous trip, now beginning to smell of smoke from the kick-started habit.
"Any particular reason why?" John asked. Sherlock gave him a look. One of those irritating looks which John was so used to now it might as well have been a spoken response. "It's not obvious to me."
"I..." he stopped abruptly and then glanced at the ceiling, "I didn't want to upset you again. And I was particularly irritable."
John's attempt at a comeback caught in his throat for a second, and he thought it must be one of those moments that had everyone convinced that they were shagging. Every time John thought that Sherlock was incapable of feeling or apologise or thinking of others, he was convinced otherwise. Course, the reverse was also true, so in the end it balanced out.
"So we're going to visit Rachit," John said, pocketing his phone and heading to the door to break the moment, "essentially, what Lestrade suggested we did yesterday?"
"Yesterday it wasn't important." Sherlock muttered, pushing ahead and skipping down the steps.
"Now you're just being stubborn."
"It's a matter of weighing up priorities. Taxi!" Sherlock said, stepping forward and effortless hailing a cab as per – bloody talented arse.
"And Angelo's, sulking and procuring my credit car was a priority?" John asked, climbing in after him and noting that – once again – he'd missed the bit where Sherlock had actually given an address and would no doubt be the one who ended up paying. The taxi-bill was probably the highest of the lot.
"Cigarettes," Sherlock muttered, then he turned to face the window and John decided any further efforts at conversation were more or less pointless, but that gave him enough time to add to his mental 'signs of affection from Sherlock' list and block out extraneous thoughts about Harry.
Thank you to sevenpercent, deaka and marylouleach for reviewing! Thanks to you (presumptuous, but I'm going for it) for reading and a Merry Christmas to all (and a merry December 25th for those who don't celebrate actual Christmas).