"Hang on," John said during the middle of a rant that Sherlock was near wrapping up, regarding Anderson, of course, and his incompetence. "What are you talking about?"
"The crime scene," Sherlock said again, with obvious irritation. "The crime scene where Anderson actually managed to ruin a footprint by tripping over it. How can you not remember that? Everyone laughed for like ten minutes, but then Lestrade was really irked because he'd destroyed evidence."
"That never happened," John said, looking at Sherlock with concern.
Sherlock blinked. "Of course," he mumbled, shaking the thought clear from his head.
Of course that couldn't be true. That was preposterous.
Of course it was, if he really thought about it...
But the more he thought about it, the more confusing it became, like trying to read something too far away, unable to perfect the perfect balance of squinting, only making it more impossible to read.
Was that the start of a headache?
He closed his eyes and rubbed them before attempting to look reassuringly at John.
He seemed skeptical.
They continued, and Sherlock stopped trying to read the small print, to unravel the not memories that couldn't be. (Could they?...)
John was berating Sherlock for some sort of experiment, or maybe it was a case, or it could have been that he forgot to get the milk again. Either way, Sherlock was mostly ignoring him in favour of extracting increasingly shrill notes from his violin.
"Wake up Sherlock," John said, examining his fingernails before picking his umbrella up to watch the tip carefully.
Alarm bells went off in Sherlock's head.
"You're not John," he accused.
"Of course not," he said graciously, and as Sherlock blinked he morphed into his brother. "Quite right. Still, the fact remains. Wake up Sherlock."
Sherlock blinked again. "I'm not asleep."
Mycroft levelled a glance at him. "Really?" he said with that smirk that Sherlock hated so.
"I'm not asleep," he repeated, but it came out as a mumble, and Sherlock sat upright, tangled in his sheets. "I'm not asleep," he whispered to himself.
He wrapped the sheet around him tightly and closed his eyes.
Not asleep. Not now.
Sherlock was quiet that day, a fact that John picked up on.
"You're not complaining about being bored, but you've hardly moved off the couch all day," John noted. "So there's something. Are you ill?"
Sherlock rolled his eyes and huffed. Trust John to only grow observant now for the unimportant things. "Of course not John," he sighed.
Just trying to wrap my brain around what the hell is actually happening.
John didn't seem to believe him, but nodded. "Alright."
As Sherlock examined the body, it moved. "Did you see that?" he asked, poking John to get his attention.
"See what?" he asked, frowning.
Sherlock shook his head. "Nothing." It must be nothing. Of course it's nothing.
He was looking at her jewellery when it happened again. He'd just managed to deduce that he had gotten married less than a year ago and it was still going rather well. Pity. John would feel for her husband. He'd likely be a bit mopey for the rest of the day, maybe longer.
He was about to move on to the splatter patterns when she opened her eyes.
Sherlock looked up at John, who was still examining the head wound and didn't seem to notice.
He looked back at her, eyes still open. She mouthed something at him, which he couldn't make out.
"I don't..." he whispered, looking at her helplessly.
John looked up at him. "Alright?"
Sherlock ignored him. The dead woman mouthed something again.
"I'm sorry," he whispered, John still looking on.
She mouthed it again, and Sherlock finally got it.
Wake up. You're not asleep.
Sherlock stood up abruptly.
"Time to go home John,"
"Did you figure it out?" he asked, stumbling to his feet and running to catch up.
"What? Oh, well... I can text Lestrade the details... gotta get home..."
John seemed confused, but that was a relatively permanent state of being for him, so Sherlock only continued hailing a cab.
He spent the rest of the night in his room.
Wake up. You're not asleep.
What did it mean?
He worried he was going mad. It was an obvious conclusion, hallucinations, delusions, memories that weren't real. It was like when he was high, except all the time with none of the mental benefits, only the crappy side effects.
Madness was terrifying to him. Not knowing what was real, what was true, having to double check everything you said to ensure it was likely at the very least, and even if it could be wrong, wouldn't prompt John to lock him up. It was exhausting.
On the worst days, he wondered if John was even real, if any of it was. Who was to say he wasn't in a padded room somewhere hallucinating the whole thing?
Continuity, he told himself. Hallucinations, even his, would not be able to create and entire life. They could sure build around one, create a different reality, add people who weren't really there, but they could not create something from nothing.
On those days, the worst ones where he doubted everything, even his own existence, he played the violin as loud and as long as he could, trying to convince himself that this had to be real, otherwise it wouldn't hurt so much when his fingers cracked and bled.
It stopped, all of it.
Sherlock no longer had to think over everything he said before it came out, double checking his memories with what could have actually happened. It was a relief. John no longer looked at him strangely when he told him something that never happened.
Whatever the hell had been going on, it seemed to have stopped.
"What are you going to do for the rest of the day?"John asked, stepping out of the cab. They had just finished up a case they'd been working on for the last week.
"Oh, there are some experiments I've been meaning to do. There's one with a kind of candy that is supposed to be rather... explosive." Sherlock grinned.
John shook his head, but he was smiling slightly as well.
"Just don't blow up the kitchen, wake up Sherlock?"
Sherlock startled when John said that, jingling the keys as he did.
"Just don't blow up the kitchen, alright Sherlock?"
Of course that's what he said. That makes sense. Of course. Perhaps get your hearing checked...
"I will do my best," he vowed.
John smiled and threw the door open to the flat, calling for Mrs Hudson, letting her know they had solved another case without dying.
But as Sherlock stepped through the open door and blinked, there was something. Something like when you could see someone out of the corner of your eye and knew they were staring at you, except this was something in the corners of his mind, just out of reach, but maybe if he focused...
"Sherlock?" John asked, looking at him oddly.
Sherlock realized he was still standing in the doorway. He attempted a smile. "Coming."
It was probably nothing.