Sherlock hadn't always seen the world in colours where sounds were supposed to be, in tastes where words were supposed to be, in sounds where tastes are supposed to be.
He'd woken up on the pavement; it was cold against his head, John standing over him looking terribly concerned.
"Are you alright?" he'd said, but Sherlock couldn't hear for the light that was coming from him. It made him want to shield his eyes, to curl away from it. Sherlock wasn't fond of bright light. But hiding would have just concerned John more, and he didn't want that.
So Sherlock did a mental self check, nodding when he found nothing to be broken (probably) and even allowed John to help him up.
"Fine," he affirmed, brushing himself off. No colours came from him when he said that, and he wondered if he had a concussion, if that explained why he thought John had been spewing sun.
John frowned at him slightly. "Are you sure?" He sounded concerned.
But Sherlock wasn't listening because there it was again. Golden emanating from John, twirling out of his mouth as he spoke.
Sherlock watched it, fascinated, wondering is he could touch it, catch it, hold it, keep it.
"Tired..." he offered John, knowing he needed to say something.
"Okay. Home then." And there it was again, slightly more yellow this time, less golden orange.
Sherlock nodded. Experiments...
He gaped as the cabbie asked where they wanted to go, green twirling out of his mouth like cigar smoke. John chatted with him, small talk that Sherlock would have dismissed as meaningless before, but now was in awe as he watched colours come from both of them, occasionally intertwining before fading and dispersing into the air.
From that he gathered that a person was mostly based around one or two colours, and their words would cause the colours to change slightly, but not stray too far.
(Based on a sample group of two.)
Sherlock needed to do more research.
He called for Mrs Hudson when they got home, and there she was, violet and magenta and sky blue shades as she twittered and smiled and chatted to them. Sherlock beamed. Brilliant.
And over the next few days he collected more data, drank it up like water to a parched plant. Took mental notes after he'd written something about John being golden and he'd spotted it, smiling as he asked Sherlock something about outsiders. (He didn't understand the reference.) He watched people and saw their colours when they spoke, detailing how the colours danced and changes as they spoke. It was fascinating.
Lestrade was all navy blue and deep green, colours of the ocean floor and deepest rainforests. Sally was orange, a bright obnoxious colour that would slip to mustard when she said particularly nasty things.
Mycroft was silver, sometimes with traces of black, sometimes of white, but his rarely strayed from that silver colour that so perfectly exemplified him. Molly was early morning sunrises and rose petals and bows that she wore. She was faint and light and it fit her.
They all fit them.
Sherlock saw them on everyone, all the cabbies who drove them to places, all the people he interviewed for cases, all the suspects, all the witnesses. He even saw them on TV.
Dead people did not speak, and therefore, did not have them.
Sherlock did not see his words. He wasn't sure if it meant it was just because they were his, or because his words didn't have colour (and he really didn't want to think what that meant). And no amount of experimenting would be able to determine which (if) it was.
It took him a little while to realize that he wasn't only seeing people's voices. There were other things. Not sounds, he may have beat it out of himself if that was true (because that would be truly awful), but he saw music. It was brilliant. He used to close his eyes when he listened to music, would let it wash over him as he sank into his mind palace. But now he could see the music with his eyes open. Fireworks for loud crescendos, building up to the explosion. Lazy streams for waltzes. Tiny bursts for staccatos notes.
His composing progressed to him wanting to make the most beautiful colours, a rainbow arching its way across the sky or a waterfall of shades of blue cascading around him.
John couldn't see what he saw, but he heard, and he liked it. (He probably also like how Sherlock didn't make dreadful noises as often, as they were not pleasant to look at. Only occasionally, when he needed to alert himself with a loud and bright one, would he do it.)
But there were more senses tangled together. More than just hearing and seeing. Foods now had sounds. He could hear what he was tasting. It took him a bit to notice this because of his habit of not eating, and even then he dismissed it as chatter from others in the restaurants.
But eventually, he ate alone at home, and there was no other explanation for the noise.
Tea was truly the best. It was a sort of hushing noise, calming the rest of the chatter around him, whether real or not.
He didn't like eating because it hurt his ears. He'd only eat certain things, things that sounded nice, not anything too loud or cacophonous. John probably wondered what the sudden dislike for Thai developed from, but Sherlock was hardly going to tell him it was because it tasted like screaming.
No, that wouldn't do at all.
And even after that realization, when he figured his life couldn't get much stranger, he finally realized that he could taste words. He could taste other people's names. Thankfully, it was not every word. Names were bad enough.
He mostly didn't use them if they were less than desirable. People thought it was because he didn't remember them, but there was no forgetting a name that burned your tongue with a fiery sound or one that almost made you throw up.
Anderson tasted dreadful, like mildew and old things. Sherlock hated spitting out his name to yell at him, it was dreadful. Lestrade tasted like cinnamon, warm and spicy, like those little candy hearts that John would offer to Sherlock at valentine's. Sally tasted like saltwater fish, leaving an aftertaste that was undesirable. His brother's name was complicated, and it took him a while to figure out what it tasted of. Cake. Red velvet cake with cream cheese icing. (How fitting, Sherlock had thought.) Mrs Hudson was sugar cookies just out of the oven. Molly tasted like flowers.
But John... John was nice. Complex. (Never dull...) John was like coffee, smooth and invigorating. It made Sherlock excited to say it, woke him up, jolted him, terrified him sometimes, when he was calling for John who was no where to be found.
Listening to other people talk was a problem, especially if that person was Anderson. Anything that came out of his mouth was black or grey or a very specific shade of mustard. Sherlock hated seeing it.
Stupidity was cloudy and all the stupid words that were said clouded everything, blocking out everything that mattered and needed to be seen.
John... John was sunshine. Anything he said, no matter if it was a word that came out black from anyone else, was bright and cleared the way through the fog of idiocy. And the way John said 'brilliant' or 'fantastic' could clear a room of a cloud of stupidity and Sherlock could finally see.
Sherlock hated cliches, they were dull and far beneath him, but saying John lit up his life was not a cliche. It was true. Not that Sherlock would have ever told anyone that.
There were patterns to how they looked. When people lied, dark spots tended to show up. It was quite useful for cases, and Sherlock worked at figuring out which dark spot correlated to which piece of what they were saying.
He began keeping notes, not caring what John thought. It was too important, too fascinating to keep to himself.
He did hide them though.
Things happened. Moriarty happened. And it all lead to a final confrontation on a roof.
Moriarty had no colours. It sickened Sherlock to look at him, to hear him and not be able to see anything.
(Why are we the same?...)
Sherlock could taste his name, didn't even need to say it out loud, because it was right there on the tip of his tongue. It was blood.
And even though Sherlock didn't see sounds, he saw the gunshot. It was possibly the worst thing he'd ever seen. (Guns had been shot in front of him, by him, at him, before, and none of them looked like anything. None of them looked like this.)
But this gun was different, a black cloudy firework. It hid the sight from Sherlock for a minute, thankfully, blocking out the worst of the blood and the look on his face.
Triumph, he realized later. Triumph. He thought he'd won.
That sound was one of the last things he saw.
(As he stepped up onto the ledge, he wondered if it would be the last noise he'd see.)
But Sherlock saw John speaking to him from the ground. He heard the words, but wasn't really listening. He was busy watching him, his colours, because something was very very wrong with them.
Sherlock had never seen colours stray like that. Because when John was normally yellow and golden and sunshine, he was now dimming, losing all of that brightness, fading away, until Sherlock fell. And then all he could do was lay there and watch as John hovered over him, collapsing into the arms of someone near by, muttering words that didn't matter because they were fading fading to grey as Sherlock was forced to watch.
There were no more colours after that. The words were alone.
Words no longer tasted.
Tastes no longer sang to him or screamed at him.
There was no more sunshine. There was no more sun.
Sherlock watched John talk to him that day in the graveyard. Heard bits and pieces of what he said.
But there was nothing to be seen. Everything was gone.
No more sun.