Title - Shadow Child - Part 3
Author - Kourion
Summary: I take a step back, my heart fluttering in my chest. The look of rage I had seen a moment before is rapidly draining from my friend's face. "Did I - did I hurt you?," Sherlock clarifies, his eyes closed. Unwilling to look. / Hints of Johnlock. Angst. Warnings for child abuse/ non-con.
Author's Note: POV change in this chapter from John to Sherlock. I also don't know how much I 'like' this chapter. While I often dislike my own writing, I find it hard to get the mood-shifting nature of our favourite mercurial detective just so. I want it to feel authentic, without being excessively bleak. Reviews ALWAYS welcome! Even if it's just a sentence (and I need to do some responses). I appreciate all the kind and supportive words, guys!
My throat is dry, and sore, and I wake up to the sense of constrictive pressure against my arms. A jostling, rushing presence.
The flat comes into my perception with a muted sort of darkness and I cough several times, my lungs feeling rough and heavy.
Almost as if I am coming down with pneumonia.
Or something equally irksome.
"What is it?," I ask gruffly, feeling somewhat unnerved by the intensity of John's expression. He quickly releases both of my arms and I pull them up to my chest, unnerved by the pressure around my wrists. He was almost grasping my flesh hard enough to induce bruising.
He obviously felt an urgent need to get me to wake.
I study him briefly and note that he looks spooked, but is calming down in rapid progressions as I sit upright.
I focus my attention on discerning and evaluating his behaviour. Something is off.
Something has happened.
I could understand the pinched look of sickness on his face last night, and this morning, of course. But the flash of fear I am seeing now has not been caused by my previous words. It's a different form of nervousness. More intense, if anything.
And it seems to have been caused by the fact that I was sleeping.
Apparently quite soundly.
I stare at my wrist watch, determining the time, before stretching out my back and arms - leaning away from the chesterfield. Cricking my neck, I hear it pop. I must have fallen asleep in an awkward position; my neck feels stiff.
"Was there a fire?," I ask calmly, after a few moments of deciding how to proceed with John. "You look...unnerved."
Certainly I am not going to have another panic attack. Hopefully never again (I've never been more mortified in front of him since I've known him), but certainly not now. Honestly, the additional rest seems to have reoriented me. Grounded me. I don't feel so lost in who I am and what I need. I know what I need. I need to push all this emotional refuse from my past away. Anytime I dwell on the memories for even a few moments, I start to feel weak and...pained. It's nonsensical, but that's how it is.
And I am not "working through" (Mycroft's words, not mine) emotions like that if they take me so off-course.
In fact, as it stands I am now mentally re-bolstering my mind palace, and keeping certain emotions contained within in a lock-down mode. Because I have been lax. Terribly sloppy.
This body is mine, and as such - so are the accompanying emotions. They are generated by the body at some level; they do not exist independently of the brain and its chemicals - and so they are something I should be able to control. There is simply no need for weepiness, for such a maudlin display of vulnerability.
My breathing, my tears, my words...
are all under my determination.
Or they should have been, and would have been, if I had been more soundly rested. On that point, John is correct.
When he still hasn't responded, I feel a slight irritation bloom in my solar plexus. Because I will not operate around him if he is determined to treat me as if I am made of spun glass. I am not breakable, I am not weak, and I am not a child in need of molly coddling. I will leave the flat for extended periods of time and go for walks if that's what is needed to bypass this awkwardness.
I cannot stand to see that look in his eyes: as if I am some pathetic, mewling kitten who has been beaten and left bleeding on the side of the street. An animal that needs to be coaxed back to safety, and spoken to with gentle words and gentle touches for fear that it may bite or claw or otherwise attack anyone who comes near.
"Perhaps there was a viral epidemic whereby people were bleeding from their eyes? And you were trying to determine if I had succumbed to the big, black sleep? Is that it?," I try again, crossing my arms over my chest. I know I look petulant. I can't help it. The move is almost instinctive, and as loathsome as it is for me to admit it - strangely comforting. I can feel the physical dimensions of my chest, my arms, the top of my torso - and I can sense that I am disconnected and therefore separate from everything else in existence. While that very thought sometimes brought me great anxiety in childhood, now - in adulthood - it gives me a strange measure of peace.
John, strangely enough, winces. And in the back of my mind, I feel a disorienting, sickening no. No, he wouldn't have told him. No, he wouldn't have done that to me.
But John is as readable as a primary school book.
"Why did you feel the need to wake me up with such insistence?," I finally manage to get out. I don't want to look at him right now. A good portion of me doesn't want to see. I just want him to give me some pat, overprotective response - and be done with it.
"Sherlock," he whispers - and I know he means to say more, and merely doesn't know how to proceed. Or rather, he doesn't know how to proceed in such a way as to not give information away. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the more alarming issue. That fact that he feels he needs to hide the reason for his concern.
Because he's not doing it to protect my so-called emotional sensitivities. He and I both know that I do not have anything close to emotional sensitivities.
He's doing it to protect someone. And given the truly limited number of people who know about my past history, diminished further by the fact that John wouldn't willingly go to any of them and discuss matters on his own...
I can only conclude...
Damn you, Mycroft.
I will kill you, you poncy, infuriating blowhard.
"Do you have something you need to tell me?," I ask suddenly, my voice taking on a syrupy tone. The mockery loud and clear.
And that's when I realize that I am truly angry.
A part of me almost feels an emotion close to hurt. Something like a feeling of breathlessness and betrayal and anger and shame, all swirled together to make one detrimental emotional state of potential instability if I don't pull myself together right now.
Keep it together, Holmes.
Haven't you exposed your underbelly enough in the last few days?
I can feel a formidable heat bite at my eyes, making them start to water, so I do the best to hold onto my anger. Finally, the sense that I need to cry abates. Anger, I know, always allows me to preserve some measure of cutting formidability.
Pain always destroys me.
"Let it go," I finally get out, looking at my lap. "Whatever he has told you. I don't need to know. He is stubborn beyond all measure, and I don't want to hear his exaggerations about how I was never able to cope, how damaged I was - how worried he is about me."
When I finally gather the strength to look at my flatmate, I realize he looks bizarrely thrown by my admission. Almost frightened. He's shifting about on the balls of his feet as if he's ready to run.
"I'm not angry with you, John. God knows how meddlesome Mycroft can be. And he should have predicted that I would have discovered his activities in a heartbeat. Your face gives everything away."
I suddenly feeling dismal and tired. "We don't have to speak about it, okay?"
It's the only out I'm going to give anyone tonight, and if he doesn't take it - if all of this becomes a horribly big deal - I'm going to lash into Mycroft with such animosity that he'll think twice about encroaching into my territory again.
John seems to be hesitating with something, and his face shows the tug-of-war that is the state of his mind.
"No Ebola outbreak, Sherlock, sorry to say. I'd know you'd probably find that pretty exciting," he says uneasily, his eyes still owlish and somewhat guilt-ridden.
What's more - I can hear the tone. The false levity. I try to ascertain whether or not I could have said or done anything in my sleep to have disturbed him, and I pull my sash more tightly across my body.
I don't believe I have a history of sleep talking. At least, I haven't spoken in my sleep for almost 15 years now.
(One of the benefits of an indulgent cocaine habit was a blissed out ability to fall asleep anywhere and at any time, and not have fear lurking about in my brain making me react like a scared child all night.)
Almost on impulse, I find myself tugging at my shirt cuffs - trying to lower them over my forearms. It's an old response - one I still haven't managed to wean myself out of, and borne of the necessity to hide track marks. Even though I no longer engage with the needle, I still find that the mannerism occasionally shows up when I'm feeling overwhelmed. Some sort of bizarre tic holdover from my early 20's, but if I am lucky - John won't understand its meaning.
Although John is watching you, genius.
And even if he doesn't understand what it means...
He knows it showcases anxiety.
I force myself to halt the motion, the itch in my arms increasing. Anxiety makes the itch stronger, even all these years later.
"You okay?," he asks softly. And it's something that I've come to realize is just so naturally John Watson. His softness, his sensitivity. As a counter measure to my brashness and at times unknowing emotional insensitivity.
I'd admit to occasionally having difficulty imagining him in the military. I can see the impact of his time in service in his hair cut, and how he walks, and holds himself, and even how he parses his sentences. But he doesn't seem like he would have been a natural fit for the army. He has too much natural empathy. Too much irrepressible softness.
It's hard to imagine him being in any position whereby he'd be expected to shoot - and kill - some random stranger on any given day.
Which probably explains why he flittered on over to the medical corps as soon as he was able. And also why he suffered with PTSD symptoms for the better part of a year. Because it is not in his nature to cause or indulge violence. He's a good marksman, yes - but that trait is more about technical precision. It is not a trait necessarily twined to a need to hurt or destroy or cause pain.
But he could hurt you. Couldn't he?
If he wanted to?
Suddenly, I feel some niggling and incredibly new fear that there is, perhaps deep down, a dark and violent side to my best friend. One that even I haven't discovered. One that I have never seen.
I can't indulge in the thoughts with him in my presence, however. And John, unfortunately, is still studying me. I feel a little dreadful considering the prospect that maybe this is just how things are going to be between us now. I have a hard enough time being seen in physical pain or weakness. Even emotions relating to pleasure, or joy, make me feel strange. Uneasy. As if my enjoyment of anything sensorial - be it eating a meal, or smelling a scent, or delighting in the feel of new soft clothing against my skin - is skirting a reality tinged with something perverse. As if it is wrong to feel good emotionally, and certainly physically.
And I know that doesn't make a lot of sense, but it's how I feel.
Intellectually, I know it makes it hard for others to live with me. Even more so - to relate to me. I know that truth, in a clinical and removed way.
But the admittance that I don't want others to see my fear, or pleasure, or almost any emotional state? It makes me wish on many occasions that I were a robot. That I didn't have to feel. That I didn't have to realize what existed all around me. What delighted others, but which causes my insides to coil up in a teeming need to get away.
And from what?
What are you trying to get away from?
It is so much easier for me to piss off and aggravate others. Force their hand, and make them hate me. Make them stay away. And usually it works, too - the John Watson's and Molly Hooper's of the world aside.
So maybe it is the fact that I am still woozy, still drowsy - that I blurt out:
"I don't like people looking at me, John."
John's frown lines deepen.
"What? What are you talking about?"
I sit up, push back against the surface of the chesterfield. Attempt to get another half foot of physical distance between the two of us before I continue on.
"I cannot stop my idiot brother from discussing matters with you if he is so inclined, but is it too much for me to request that you do not look at me as you are currently doing?"
John backs up on his own now. An essential six or seven more inches in an opposing direction. I let out a pent up breath.
"I wasn't aware that I was looking at you in a bad way, Sherlock."
I bristle. Even John can't be that stupid.
He must know what I mean.
"You are studying me. And it's not in your nature to study people. Therefore, I don't like it. I don't like what it means."
"I...apologize. Lord knows I don't want to make this harder for you. I'm just concerned."
Another word I hate.
Maybe more than all the others combined.
Awful word, that.
Makes me cringe every time I hear it.
I nod, once, quickly but strongly.
"And what will it take for you to no longer be concerned?," and my voice is like grit. Sandy.
John actually sighs. I hear him, and I see him lower himself down to his haunches. Probably so he can meet me eye to eye. A display of camaraderie, perhaps?
"I am your friend, Sherlock. So I'm going to be honest with you, yeah?"
I don't say anything, don't even move - but he gets the message. Proceed.
"It might take me awhile before I no longer am concerned about you. There's also a chance that I might always be concerned about you. It's how I operate when I care about someone. I don't want them to be in pain, if it can be helped. And I don't think ignoring all this stuff is going to make it hurt any less."
I suddenly feel infused with heat, and realize I feel dirty. I must have sweat all over my clothes in the heat of the day. Even my hair seems to be somewhat weighed down against my skull.
"I don't like that response," I say finally. Not knowing what else to say, and not caring if I sound like a 5 year old. I've been accused of being profoundly childish in the past, so I hardly care how I sound now. Especially if that is the prevailing consensus of my behaviour.
John's brows draw together.
"But it's the truth, Sherlock. And I thought you'd prefer the truth more than anything else right now."
That infuriating Mycroft. What the hell has he told you?
"Then while we are on the subject of truth, John - what did my brother tell you tonight?"
John suddenly stands up. He looks tense.
"Oh relax! I know you didn't go to him of your own impetus looking for answers. I've already told you - I'm not angry with you."
He seems to be debating with an issue. I can see the tension play out over his facial features.
"You shouldn't be angry with Mycroft, either, Sherlock. He was just trying to help."
"Trying to help," I scoff. "He's just trying to appease his own guilty conscience. If he spoke to you - believe me - it was more for his benefit, not mine."
"Look, Sherlock. He didn't even want you to know that he had spoken with me! He expressed - very strongly - his recommendation that I never even bring it up. He merely wanted to clarified a few issues. And he didn't really tell me much more about what occurred than you did."
But I can see his tell. I know his tell. He's rubbing his right ear lobe with his hand.
"Why are you lying to me?," I hiss, "You told me you were going to be honest! But you're lying. I can read the falsity all over your face! What did he tell you?!"
"Sherlock! The two of you have me between a rock and a hard place! Mycroft insisted in speaking with me. You know what he's like! You know how persistent he is!"
"Oh, I am so sorry you are in such a difficult position. However shall you cope?"
A flash of anger then.
"You git! Don't take your anger out on me! I was trying to help you last night, and I was trying to help you this morning. Don't you see, Sherlock? You can barely contain it! You never lose it on cases. But you did on this one! And if you can do it once, you can do it again! It means there are very real-"
I get up, try to move past him. I don't need to hear this.
"No! Listen to me! The reason Mycroft knew of my concerns was because I was trying to help you."
Fresh understanding now, and an elevated heart race.
"What did you do?"
How would Mycroft learn of it?
Unless John was...taking matters into his own hand, perhaps?
Has he contacted someone on my behalf?
It'd be just like him to try to get me to talk to someone.
Even though he hated going to a therapist, himself.
John rolls his eyes.
"You make it sound like I betrayed your confidence. All I did was go to get some books. To learn more about what you are going through. To help you with sorting this all out."
To read more about it.
To know more about what would have happened in my disgusting past.
To hear professionals talk about it.
"I don't need any help, John! Not from you! Not from some bloody so-called professional! Nothing is the matter with me!," and the snarl comes out all on its own.
"Nothing is the matter, hey?," and John's voice - his timber and volume - has returned to being so rational, so aggravatingly calm - that I want to scream. "So you didn't describe what sounds like trauma induced dissociation to me this morning, did you? I must have imagined that part. I must have been confused, because it sounded to me like you were describing a very traumatic early childhood. An inability to stay with reality, because the reality presented to you was so horrific!"
I stand up suddenly, my fingers curling into fists under my dressing robe.
"I can't believe you are using that against me! That was a lifetime ago! And I told you that in confidence! Not so you could hold that information over my head like this is some sort of twisted poker game. And now you and Mycroft-"
"It was a confidence I kept! I didn't tell Mycroft any of it! Nothing of what you said, and nothing of what occurred, or my responses!"
I look down at my hands when I feel something warm and wet pearl up against my palms.
I've cut my skin.
Accidentally, of course.
But it's cut all the same.
Half moon bleeding in a vibrant rose are starting to crest along the center of my hands.
"Damnit, Sherlock!," John breaths, suddenly sounding old and heart broken, "This is what I am talking about! Either you deliberately hurt yourself, or you didn't feel the pain associated-," and his voice drops off.
My hands are still shaking as John departs to the bathroom, only to pad back a few seconds later with a damp wash cloth.
"Is that what Mycroft said?," I ask at last. Even though I dread the response. "That I'll hurt myself? That I have?"
John closes his eyes.
"I don't need Mycroft to tell me that you have a history-"
"A history of what?"
"Self-harm. If only related to your drug use, for starters. Using hard drugs? You knew exactly where that could lead, but you took part in it anyway. Not only that - but the misappropriation of substances in general, even legal substances, to modify your bodily limitations. Your tendency to ignore physical signs representative of hunger, fatigue, cold, pain. Problems we've discussed before! Long before I even knew about this...issue. In short - you completely ignore what your body needs. And that's just your body. You are so much more than a body, Sherlock! You are so much more than a machine, even though I know you wish it were that simple! So tell me - is that not reason enough to be concerned?"
I can feel the adrenaline coursing through my body. And I want to say something to John, something to get him to see - but I can no idea what to say. I have no idea if I even think he's right, or wrong. I just feel off-kilter.
You've already had a panic attack in front of John Watson.
Army doctor John Watson, who probably saw his own friends bleed out in the field.
And here you are, acting like a pathetic, disgusting-
"But what else? He told you something. Because you looked scared when I didn't wake up right away."
John licks his lips.
"Is there something Mycroft could have told me, about you not waking easily - that would cause me to be concerned?"
I suddenly feel furious.
At every living being who doesn't feel like this.
Doesn't feel this tangle of black and red and everything pulsing and hurting
"Stop playing games with me! This isn't funny!"
John's eyes suddenly harden and deepen.
"The last thing in the world I think about child abuse is that it is funny."
He probably finds it heartbreaking.
Cue the violins.
I try not to snort.
"Don't give me the run around! Admit it! You just think I'm weak and damaged! In need of being watched 24-7 lest I try to cut my body open again with an exacto blade! Or did Mycroft not get that far in his disclosure?"
My torso and arms are suddenly trembling.
I didn't know anger could make me feel this way.
That furor alone could make me feel so upset.
Or if I am even upset.
Or if I am sad.
I don't know. I don't know anything.
"Jesus Christ," and John's voice comes out in such a way that I doubt he meant to speak at all. In fact, if pallor was determined by octaves, by notes - he would be several notes paler right now. "Can I please sit down?," he questions, but it's obviously rhetorical because he's already moving to sit down besides me.
I pull back and try to get my heart to stop thundering away in my chest.
When he opens his eyes again, I can see that they are full of tears.
Oddly enough, that makes my resolve harden more so. It makes the sad feeling in my gut lessen. It makes it easier to feel anger and not pain. Because if he is in pain-
And maybe he deserves it. After speaking to Mycroft.
Knowing how that would upset me.
He could have walked away.
But he must have gotten into that car...
He certainly didn't put up much of a fight now - did he?
"Why did you do that? Hurt yourself like that?," and he speaks so softly that I can barely hear him. "What in the world would have possessed you to do that, Sherlock?"
I pull my hands to my lap, and study the crusting blood. Focus on it. Focus on the geometry of it. If I could straighten out the lines, and intersect another few lines of red, I would have an equilateral triangle...
And suddenly one of my hands is in one of his, and my throat feels tighter, even though I didn't think it could feel anymore constricted.
I pull my arm back quickly, shift away from him in my seat.
"I'm sorry. I should have asked first before I did that," he mutters.
"Doesn't matter," I get out.
Whose lying, now?
"Why did you tell me that, Sherlock?," and the look in his eyes highlights just how much he wants to understand.
That he's not just saying what he's saying to be polite. He really wants to know.
"I told you because I was angry," I bite out. "And because I know Mycroft likely already told you. And because I wanted to shock you. Make you stop talking about everything. I can see now that my attempt has failed."
John nods to himself, evidently seeing or appreciating a certain emotional logic in my words that I cannot discern myself.
"Can you tell me why you did it then? What was going through your head to make you think-," and he evidently cannot keep speaking.
"It was 22 years ago, John! I don't know what I was thinking when I did it! I guess I was upset," I huff.
His eyes are scanning my own. Moving back and forth rapidly.
"You 'guess you were upset'? So you took a knife and cut your legs and-"
"Yes," my tone is brisk. "Yes, whatever Mycroft said - yes. I don't see why it is important now. I didn't do any lasting harm to myself, according to the doctors. Not that it would change my life at present much one way or the other if I had."
"Sherlock," John gets out in a tense voice. "This - this isn't something to joke about."
"The fact that I was a reactive idiot of a child? That sounds like a hilarious joke, to me. How someone apparently so smart could do something so dumb. And then to be caught, to be bandaged up, to be kept in 72 hour hold. I think that's freaking hysterical."
"That's not what I was implying" he responds, preternaturally patient. "It just shocked me, is all. And despite what Mycroft said, I didn't know if you needed to talk about it. Something tells me you never really have."
My heart starts to slow. In a strange way, I don't even feel ashamed of what I've just admitted. Possibly because John doesn't seem ashamed for me. He just seems resignedly sad. And while that shouldn't make me feel better, it doesn't make me feel quite so-
"I had to know if he told you, so I had to get your reaction. I thought you'd think I was a freak, if you knew," and when I speak, my voice comes out in staggered breaths. Monotone voice. Controlled. "Because it is a freakish thing to do."
John's index finger flitters over to my left hand. I feel a slight wispy touch - back and forth; a physical attempt at assurance. It makes my stomach tighten.
"I've never thought you were a freak, Sherlock. And I never will, alright?"
And just like that, the light stroking stops. In fact, if was so brief, so light, so almost not anything at all - that I start to wonder if the motion was more instinctive, and not really thought out at all.
"What now?," I question, trying to hold in the shuddery need for fresh air. I can calm down in my own room, in the bathroom. I can get it together in privacy.
John rights himself, then offers me a hand and brings me to my feet.
"Perhaps the best thing is to just proceed...as normally as possible? And, since you are obviously exhausted - an early bed? No 3 am violin sessions, perhaps?"
"Early bed?," I scoff. "It's after 8 pm and I've slept the entire day."
"You did," John says slowly. "So you can see my concern."
"No doubt exacerbated by Mycroft's exaggerations," I mutter.
"Sherlock...," the tone is brisk. Brooking no argument. "It doesn't sound like Mycroft exaggerated anything, does it?"
So much for so-called rest...
As we walk to the kitchen, John suddenly turns to me. Studious and intent. More so than our previous interaction.
"Did you take something?," he parses his words carefully, not meeting my eyes now. "Some sort of medication, perhaps?"
"And just when we agreed to try to get things back to normal..."
"Sherlock - you slept for a very long time. Had you taken a drug of some sort? Are you taking anything to, you know, help you with your sleep?"
John's lips suddenly look pinched.
"You're actually - what? - scared?," I muse.
He doesn't respond.
"What is it?," I repeat, more caustically than before.
"Scared because I was sleeping? No - that's not it. You are scared precisely because you are worried that I had taken - what? Taken a sleeping medication?"
He flinches at that.
"No. This is Mycroft's doing. Oh, I see it now. He told you...he told you I had been suicidal. Melodramatic donkey's ass!"
"No. Alright? I am not taking sleeping pills. I give you my word."
He looks away to the fridge, biting his tongue when he sees a plastic Ziploc bag with cut brain segments of a goat.
"That's it. I am getting you a bar fridge. You can keep body parts in there."
I settle down on a stool, and watch him as he bustles about. I still am upset with Mycroft. But John isn't treating me like a basket case, so the anger I had felt earlier is diminishing.
"I'm going to make us some tortellini," my flat mate finally states, sighing. "You like tortellini, don't you? You told me to order it once. At Angelo's"
I slam the cabinet shut just as he attempts to open it.
"What?," he asks petulantly. "Sherlock - I'm trying to make us dinner here. If you don't want to talk about anything else, then I'm not going to force you. But you need to eat. You have lost weight on the Thiesen case, and you can't afford to really do that."
"What's this, then?," and I indicate to his clothes, lightly touching the sleeve of his arm. "You have changed your jumper."
"Hmm?," he asks absently, once more looking for the box of dried green and orange tortellini from the Italian market. "Do you like pesto sauce?"
John was wearing an oatmeal jumper earlier. My favourite jumper. With blue jeans.
Before he left the house.
Now he is wearing a cranberry red jumper, with brown cords.
It is not a hot day...
so it is unlikely he would have sweated in his clothing
certainly not to a degree whereby he felt he had to change.
He did not work today.
I also know he had a large bowl of steel cut oats around brunch, shortly before he left the flat.
So he probably did not drop food on his garments.
But he may have spilled a beverage on his clothing.
"Did you spill something on your clothes?"
John's brows crease, and he seems to be internally debating something.
"I spilt coffee on them, yes."
"Pants, too," I muse. "Did someone bump into you? You're not usually that careless."
John rolls his eyes.
"Yes, Mr. Observant. I was at a café this afternoon. A man spilled his beverage on me as he was leaving."
I grumble under my breath. That jumper really is my favourite.
"I brought you back a biscotti as well," John continues. "You're welcome, by the way."
I hop up from my chair, and root around in the cupboard, looking for the treat.
"It's for after dinner, Sherlock," John says calmly, with the edge of something stern. Almost as if he is my fa-
Almost as if he is my superior.
"I actually like biscotti," I admit, taking a bite. "Never big on tortellini."
"You chose this, Sherlock! You actually put four of these bags of gourmet tortellini into our cart. Therefore, if you don't like tortellini - tough. We are using this food up."
I smile into the air, finding John's tone amusing, then pull my feet up and under my body. Sitting cross legged, I watch him as he prepares the meal.
The fact that he is pretending to be irritated with me (when I know he really isn't) is enough to calm me down and make everything feel more or less normal again. And resolved. I suddenly feel much better.
"Can you clean a space on the table, please?," John asks quickly, pulling me from my musings.
I nod and go to find the necessary supplies after depositing my experiments in new regions around the kitchen. I then take a bottle of eco-cleanser that John must have purchased from under the sink and spray the table top with a light mist, wiping everything down with a tea towel.
"Not what that's used for," John says under his breath, and then, more loudly: "thank you, Sherlock. That's great."
I smirk anew, pleased that he's bypassed the chastising stage entirely.
"What sauce would you like?," he asks easily. "A marinara? Or a crème sauce?"
"We have sauce?," I question. Because - I highly doubt that we do. In fact, I am almost certain that we don't.
"Well, we have all the ingredients to make a sauce. We have tomatoes, peppers, onions, butter, cheese... the appropriate herbs."
"That sounds excessively time consuming for a sauce. Can't we just grate cheese over everything and be done with it?," I say easily, biting once more into the chocolate biscotti with relish.
John watches my actions and sighs.
"I told you. That was for after," he reiterates, while I smile at him with closed-mouth appreciation. "Well, at least you are eating."
I stop mid-chew, and put the bag down on the table. I don't like the insinuation.
"I'm not on a case. So the rules don't apply. I don't have some sort of problem with eating, despite whatever lies Mycroft may have tried to tell you."
John looks stunned for a second, before replying: "Sherlock, I didn't-"
"Getting a shower," I mutter, departing the room as hurriedly as possible.
I take the stairs two at a time until I get to my bedroom and then quickly locate clean clothes. I decide upon black jeans and a Kelly green button down shirt before I make my way to the bathroom.
The light flickers on until the room is encapsulated in a golden glow. I lock the door - checking twice - before pulling off my sleeping garments and tossing them into a pile by the hamper.
I then grab a new blue Gillette razor from under the sink, along with my shaving foam, toothbrush and paste, and a 2-in-1 bottle of shampoo that smells decidedly like candied pears. I take the assortment of items over to the tub basin, before throwing back the curtain and fiddling with the taps.
From the inside of the space the rest of the bathroom looks green, and eerie, and I quickly seek out hot water before pulling the tap upwards to flood the shower interior with water.
I work quickly, starting with my teeth because I have only slept through the entire god damn day and they feel grimy and disgusting. I get a good lather of licorice foam going before I spit everything down the drain. I then re-brush my teeth until the interior of my mouth feels suitably clean.
Next I squirt out a quid-sized worth of orange scented body cleanser and rub it over my frame, in sections. When a section is completely scrubbed and cleansed, I rinse off the residue and mentally delete that part of my anatomy from my body's daily to-clean list. Clean areas are in green, dirty areas in red. At least in my mind. A sort of easy to understand Go and Stop system.
I let my fingers cascade over my chest and along my torso as I rub at the flesh with the cloth. Eventually the skin changes colour from pale white to reddish, and that change, ironically enough, indicates that the area is sufficiently cleansed.
I do my arms next, and then my face. Finally I grab the bottle once more to get slightly more gel, and apply the cleanser to my thighs, and between my legs - looking at the shower curtain as I do so. I feel around until my fingertips connect with the slightly raised ridge of keloid scars and then I move lower to complete the routine on my calves and feet.
My hair is always last, because it is the least problematic area and takes the least amount of time to complete.
I turn off the shower for a few moments, shivering in the relative coolness of the space, then cup my hands to receive a fair bit of Barbasol foam. Most men do this chore in front of the sink, so that they can see the outline of their face and avoid nicking themselves. Luckily, my proprioceptive abilities are highly attuned, so I rarely cut myself. The shower also adds an added bonus: the ability to completely rinse off and wash away all foam and residue.
I apply a thin layer of shaving foam to my neck and jawline, then deftly feel about with my fingertips once more before swiping the razor blade over my facial skin until the slight gritty edge of new hair growth is cut away and the skin feels hairless once more. As luck would have it, my body hair is relatively sparse and fine and doesn't seem to grow in very quickly at all. In fact, I could probably get away without a daily shave and have no one be the wiser. The bigger issue, for me, is one of tactile defensiveness. I dislike the sandpapery quality of my skin when the hair grows in. It distracts me to such a degree that I am typically highly attentive to my personal hygiene.
I shave twice tonight to ensure that I have gotten all slight protrusions - before restarting the shower jet and rinsing the shampoo and shaving foam off and away from my body.
My hair is air drying and already starting to curl when I return to the kitchen; John is serving the tortellini into two chartreuse bowls.
"Feeling better?," he asks pleasantly, with only a hint of sadness from the earlier evening still splayed across his face, and I nod curtly.
I always feel better after a shower.
It's just the way I am.