A Trip of the Mind
"John...we found him."
The doctor had never been so relieved to hear Lestrade's voice and after he took a moment to steady his nerves, he asked, "He alright?" The noise and bustle of the street corner he was on suddenly faded away into the background, unimportant.
Greg cleared his throat, "More or less. He's been dosed. Heavily."
"With what?" Came his sharp reply, his concern spiking again.
"We don't know. We tried asking him but he isn't at all capable of giving us a straight answer."
"Where are you?" John thrust his hand into the air to hail a taxi.
"We're taking him to Bart's."
"Meet you there." Shoving his phone into his coat pocket and climbing into the cab, John barked out an order for the cabby to drive as quickly as was lawfully acceptable, his voice hard and clipped with all the authority of an Afghan army captain.
While the relief of knowing where Sherlock was had alleviated some of the pressure in his chest, there was still the issue of not knowing his flatmate's current health condition that continued to squeeze his lungs uncomfortably. Lestrade had sounded more than a little worried on the phone, although he seemed to be putting effort into hiding it. Whether that was for his own sake or for John's, the doctor couldn't be sure.
As the car raced around the busy streets of London, thankfully it was well after rush hour, John felt small tendrils of anger creeping out from the dark places in his mind. They were faint, mere wisps of smoke, but they were there all the same. Why, why did the world's only consulting detective so stubbornly maintain this notion of having to do everything on his own? How could a man so intelligent, a man obsessed with facts and data, continuously ignore the evidence that was piling up around him? Sherlock had been forced to see, time and time again since John had come along, that working together with someone, having a person, a friend, to watch your back was almost always better than going alone.
He shook his head, a sigh rushing sharply from his nostrils. But Sherlock never seemed to learn from that particular mistake and now he'd gone and gotten himself into some serious trouble.
When he got to the reception area of the hospital the intensity of his tone hadn't lessened any and the poor nurse was barely able to stutter out the answer to his questions as he pinned her with a hard, expectant gaze and took off before she'd even finished answering. When he came up to the door to the room in which Sherlock was supposedly being looked after, John was dismayed and more than a little irritated to find agents Anderson and Donovan peering through the open door, arms crossed and looking far too amused.
"What," He snapped harshly, "Are you two doing here?"
They jumped at his sudden appearance and hard tone and he easily stared them down like rookie soldiers that were acting up, but the loud clang of medical instruments hitting floor tiles saved them from having to answer and John shouldered past them through the door and saw what was probably the most ridiculous scene he'd witnessed in a while.
Sherlock had backed himself into the far corner of the room, eyes all at once wide, unfocused and completely dazed. John could see from where he stood that the man's pupils were blown wide, eating up most of the crystal blue iris and no doubt projecting images into his brain that weren't really there. Two large, intimidating looking male nurses and one doctor in a white lab coat stood a ways back from him and D.I. Lestrade stood between them and Sherlock, almost as if trying to keep them away.
"What the hell is going on?" John asked incredulously.
"He's refusing to let us test for-" The doctor began, gesturing angrily, but John cut him off when he saw that in one of the man's hands was a syringe.
"What is that for?"
The doctor looked down at the syringe, confused. "A sedative, of course."
John floundered for a moment, hardly able to believe what he'd just heard. "A sedative? You were going to give him a sedative without knowing what was already in his system?"
For some reason John couldn't understand, this seemed to greatly annoy the other doctor and the man pulled a face as he sneered. "It's only Valium. Do you know what the odds are he was drugged with a substance that would react negatively with Valium?"
"Yes. I do. It isn't zero." John's voice had hardened again into something ugly enough to cause the other doctor to lower the syringe with wide eyes.
Having avoided that potentially disastrous situation, John returned his attention to Sherlock. It looked like they had tried to wrestle him out of his clothes and into a hospital gown, although they really hadn't gotten far. The gown was in a ball on the floor amidst a scattering of medical paraphernalia that had fallen off a nearby tray a moment ago and only the top few buttons on the man's shirt had been - he squinted - torn off. He blinked a few times, reaching the obvious conclusion that someone had either intentionally tried to rip off Sherlock's shirt or they'd done it by accident when they grabbed for him, both scenarios made him clench his jaw in anger and he looked to Lestrade after the revelation, eyes flashing. "Right, what the hell is going on here?"
"They need to take a blood sample." Lestrade answered with the air of someone who really just wanted everyone to calm the hell down, eying the two male nurses as he spoke with a distrustful gaze. "He didn't react well. Started shouting. These two-" he jabbed a thumb in the direction of the nurses with a scowl on his face, "-came in and all but wrestled him to the floor."
Trying hard to reign in his temper, John snapped at the male nurses. "Get out, please."
"Who do you think you are? You can't just order my staff around!" Cried the hospital doctor in annoyance, hands flailing in the air
"I'm his doctor and I know him well enough to handle this situation much better than you. We don't need two massive nurses manhandling him. Trust me when I say it will only make things worse for everyone."
His patience with the other man was wearing thin and John bestowed a look of utmost abhorrence upon him in the hopes that he'd be able to figure that out for himself without John having to say so out loud. After a moment in which the two doctors tried to glare each other into submission, John was mildly satisfied when the other man backed down first with a prissy sigh, jerking his head at the two nurses and causing them to leave the room, shouldering past Donovan and Anderson still hovering in the doorway.
"Sherlock." John said quietly, his voice instantly losing it's edge as he calmly took a few steps towards the detective.
The man didn't react at first, apparently busy tracking the progress of something unseen across the floor, but then his eyes fluttered and darted over to John, a touch of awareness and recognition surfacing momentarily before he was pulled back down into the depths of the drug.
"John?" By the time the name had passed over his lips, Sherlock's eyes were unfocused again.
"Sherlock, the doctor needs to take a sample of your blood." John explained, speaking slowly, eyes raking over the form of his friend. The little wisps of anger, which had been quite weak to begin with, were suddenly scattered, scared off by his growing concern. Seeing this man so confused and uncertain was a very chilling thing to witness. Sherlock was always so sharp, his eyes always saw everything, his mind was always one step ahead, to see him in a state such as this was beyond unnerving because, despite being spoken to like a child, Sherlock's brow crumpled in confusion and he sunk to the floor, staring straight ahead.
"No. No, no, no, no...no more needles."
John looked from Lestrade to the doctor and back to Sherlock before squatting down. "Can you remember what they gave you? Think, Sherlock." He coaxed, "If you remember then we won't have to stay here any longer. We can go home." It wasn't a complete lie.
Sherlock's gaze remained fixed and unfocused and he didn't respond. John frowned and leaned in close, looking hard at his flatmate's unblinking eyes and then stood after a moment of study.
"Well, whatever it was, it was either a hallucinogen or it was cut with one." He scratched the back of his head, wondering if Sherlock was out of it enough for them to take his blood without it garnering a violent reaction from the unpredictable man.
"How do you know that?" The other other doctor asked incredulously.
"His pupils are heavily dilated and pulsing slightly, only a hallucinogenic will do that. He's clenching his jaw tightly and his eyes are focusing, however briefly, on things that aren't there. His breathing is shallow, his hands and legs have a slight tremor, he's popping in and out of awareness..." He passed a hand over his face. "All common indicators of a hallucinogenic." He crouched back down and gently took Sherlock's thin wrist, pushing back the sleeve. He then grabbed the other arm and did the same, heaving a sigh when he spotted the red mark on the inside of his elbow. "And it was an injectable drug, which rules out anything that has to be smoked, snorted or swallowed."
"You're starting to sound like him." Donovan piped up from the doorway, it was obvious from her tone that it was not intended as a compliment.
"I'm a doctor, Sally, it's my job to notice such things."
The other doctor in the room shifted uncomfortably at the subtle insult.
"They made me." Sherlock suddenly whispered, drawing everyone's attention. He pressed the palms of his trembling hands into his eyes, elbows on his knees. "They made me, I swear,"
John shook his head, not understanding. "Made you do what?"
"I was clean." His face appeared from behind his hands and his pale eyes moved in Lestrade's general direction but did not focus in on any part of the man. "Lestrade, I was clean. They made me. They held me down and they were too strong, I tried but I couldn't get away."
"I know, Sherlock." The detective inspector's voice was unusually quiet and he had a pained look on his face as he looked down at the man on the floor.
"Can you remember what it was?" John asked while the man seemed semi coherent.
Sherlock's brow crumpled slowly. "What it was?" He echoed, eyes wide, "What it was, what it was, what was it?" He chanted and moved to sit cross legged his gaze falling to the tiled floor. "What was it?" It sounded more like Sherlock had lost his train of thought and was trying to find it again, instead of trying to recall whatever drug was coursing through his veins.
John shook his head, glancing up at Lestrade. "It's no use. The drugs in his system haven't even peaked yet. He's only going to get worse."
Lestrade blinked incredulously, "Worse?!"
Sherlock drew a sudden, harsh, shuddering breath into his lungs, his eyes shut tightly.
"Sherlock?" John asked cautiously. He watched in concern as Sherlock's pale hands found their way into his curly hair, gripping it tightly. "What's wrong?"
"I can't...too much...too fast..." Sherlock gasped, tremors now wracking his entire body. "Why?" He whispered, seemingly to himself, "Why, why, why can't I slow it down?"
"Slow what down...? Sherlock, remember to breath." John said as calmly as he could before glancing up at Lestrade again. "He's on the verge of a panic attack. If we don't calm him down he might pass out and that could be...really not good."
"Why not?" Lestrade asked, "Wouldn't it be easier for him to just sleep it off? And is Sherlock even capable of having a panic attack?"
"We don't know how much they gave him." The other doctor explained. "He could be close to overdosing and if he loses consciousness he may slip into a coma."
John was already returning his focus to Sherlock. "Sherlock, what is going too fast?" He asked, trying to get the man talking, trying to draw out his focus from the internal whirlwind raging in his head.
The leaps between lucidity and delirium were dizzying in their speed and Sherlock's sanity seemed to be a rhythmic pulse of peaks and valleys, like the waves of a stormy ocean. It left John staggering to keep up and he could only imagine the effect it was having on the normally balanced man.
"My head, my mind, my thoughts!" Sherlock gasped, a trill of panic lacing his words. It was this, more than anything else, that immediately set everyone within earshot on edge. If Sherlock Holmes was panicking, you could be sure there was something worth panicking about.
John had to think quickly, his gut clenching as he saw the tremors evolve into something close to convulsions.
"Ok. Alright. That's alright, just...just walk me through what's happening. Tell me what you're thinking."
Sherlock's head jerked to the side slightly, speaking so quickly I was hard for John to catch all his words. "Can't. They're going by...too fast. Can't grab them. Can't hold on to them."
"Just tell me as they come to you. Even if it's only one word at a time."
"Time!" Sherlock nearly shouted, and then he gave John exactly what he asked for. His mouth suddenly became a gateway to his brain and as each thought entered his head, Sherlock spit out as many words as he could before it was gone . "Goes fast and slow. Fast like Death, slow like boredom. Fast like blood spilling, gushing, rushing from their throats like water bursting through a dam. Solid, strong, every wall submits to time, even flesh. Especially flesh. Can't run, can't hide, he's coming. He always comes-hunting, preying, chasing, running, stalking and I'm never fast enough." The words whipped themselves out from behind his teeth with shocking speed and when he'd emptied his lungs of air, Sherlock took but a half second to fill them again. "Air, nitrogen, oxygen, argon, carbon dioxide- seventy eight percent, twenty percent, zero point nine three four percent, zero point one three four percent. Three point one four one five nine two six five three five nine-" he stopped abruptly when his steamroller thought process appeared to hit a metaphorical brick wall, silence ringing solidly in the room for a moment until he gave a shudder and a strangled sound escaped his throat.
That single sound caused goosebumps to flare across John's arms and Lestrade to curse.
Sherlock was afraid; terrified by whatever was happening behind his eyes.
"Please." He begged, pleaded, "Make it stop."
"For god's sake!" The other doctor exploded, "Let me sedate him!"
John rounded on the man, his finger pointed threateningly. "You come near him with that syringe and I'll drop you." He turned back to Sherlock. "Sherlock, open your eyes. Look at me." When he got no response he moved so that he was kneeling directly in front of his flat mate and gently grabbed both his wrists, pulling pale fingers out of dark hair.
Sherlock's hands immediately balled themselves into tight fists.
"Sherlock." John said. "Focus on my voice, alright. Everything is fine. No one is hunting you. You're safe here." He took a moment to slow his own breathing, "Just open your eyes."
His shaking calmed down a little and, slowly, John's patience was rewarded by Sherlock's pale eyes appearing from behind equally pale eyelids. But his gaze remained on the floor, head hanging down.
"Right. Very good. Now look at me, please." He grimaced when Sherlock's eyes rose and searched his own desperately for something, anything, to distract him.
"What did they give you?"
"Give me?" Sherlock echoed in a surprising moment of clarity. But his eyes were already beginning to glaze over again.
"You were injected with something. Some men forced you to the ground and put a needle in your arm. Did they tell you what was in it?"
He blinked. "Lysergic acid..." was all he got out before his eyes darted to a spot over John's shoulder.
But John was left gaping all the same. "LSD?"
"What?" Anderson cried from the doorway. "He's just been tripping out this whole time?" He scoffed and shook his head as if he couldn't believe Sherlock's antics
"What the hell do you find so funny about this, Anderson?" It was Lestrade that asked the question, anger evident in his voice, causing a stricken look to flash over Anderson's face.
"Well, I mean, come on! LSD was called the 'love drug' for a reason. It's a happy drug!"
John just stared open mouthed at the man. "My god, you really are an idiot."
"No drug has the same effect on everyone that takes it, Anderson! Most people who take LSD take it willingly with an open mind in a safe and comfortable environment. LSD's psychological effects vary from person to person based on factors such as previous experience, of which he has none, and exposure to the drug, state if mind and environment as well as dose and strength. If the user is in a hostile or unsettling environment or is not mentally prepared for the powerful distortion in perception and thought that the drug causes, effects are likely to be...unpleasant." He turned back to Sherlock. "Holmes, listen to me. LSD causes an altered sensory experience of senses, emotions, memories, time and awareness. You must remember that whatever you are seeing isn't real and it can't hurt you."
Sherlock's eyes were locked on to John's again but he was staring right through him. "He always hurts me." The man corrected him in a whisper, his voice dull and resigned like he had accepted whatever terrible fate lay over John's shoulder.
John shook his head, not understanding at all. "Who, Sherlock?"
The detective's mouth twisted into a sinister version of a grin. "Father, of course."
At the words, something cold and hard settled in the pit of John's stomach when he realized just who it was that Sherlock had seen lurking over his shoulder and he closed his eyes briefly before standing, the detective's own words from a moment ago ringing in his ears like a ghostly echo.
'...Can't run, can't hide, he's coming. He always comes-hunting, preying, chasing, running, stalking and I'm never fast enough...'
"He's in psychosis." He explained when he noticed the uncomfortable look on Lestrade's face. "He's lost touch with reality."
He was pleased to note that even Anderson and Donovan had sobered quickly at the startling glimpse they'd all just gotten into Sherlock Holmes' childhood. Lestrade tore his eyes from the normally infallible consulting detective to look at John, his expression clearly conveying his alarm.
So John was quick to elaborate. "It isn't as bad as it sounds. It isn't permanent or anything."
"No way to tell." John answered. "LSD can have lasting effects anywhere from six to fourteen hours depending on body weight and dosage." His eyes dropped to stare at Sherlock's prominent collar bone, "It will likely be a while for him."
"Should we keep him here, then?" Lestrade asked uncertainly, hands on his hips.
"No...no, I think we should take him home. Safe, comfortable environment." He nodded, almost able to hear the eye roll from the other doctor as he finally stormed from the room in frustration of being completely ignored. He stooped down to grab Sherlock's arm. "Come on, up you get."
No sooner had his fingertips grazed the fabric of Sherlock's shirt than the man ripped the limb from his grasp.
"Don't!" Sherlock cried, curling in on himself.
"Sherlock, there isn't anyone here but me and Lestrade." John tried to remind him.
"Always. He's always there. Watching, waiting, hating, planning. Patience." His eyes were firmly closed again. "You can't run. You can't hide. Not from someone who has eyes everywhere. He finds me every time. So I stopped hiding. Wait for him. Don't fight back, Never. Never. He doesn't like that. Cry. Crying is ok, he likes it when you cry, makes him feel powerful."
"Sherlock, stop." John whispered, feeling a desperate helplessness clawing at his insides as he watch his friend curl in on himself.
"Why, why does he do it? Hitting, kicking, clawing, burning, bleeding, screaming. It hurts. Mother, mother uses her words. Words don't hurt but Father...father likes to touch." His breath caught in his throat then as if he was actually in pain. His arms folded themselves atop his knees and he turned his head to rest it on his arms, blue eyes open once more as he gazed out the open doorway.
Then his eyes suddenly came into focus, dancing between Anderson and Donovan before coming to rest on Sally, causing her to shift uncomfortably and look down at the floor, unable to hold his gaze.
He inhaled slowly, filling his lungs to capacity before exhaling into one drawn out word, "Freeeeak..." his eyes narrowed as he continued to stare at her. "Why do they call me that?" He asked aloud to himself. "Because of what I see. Because of how I think." He answered himself just as quickly and then muttered with a tone of finality, "Not fair."
Donovan was pale when she turned to flee the room and, with a sigh, Anderson chased after her.
"You with us?" John asked for confirmation, shocked that he'd gotten an answer at all.
"For now." He sighed deeply. "I want to go home."
"Yes...yes, as do I." John stretched out his hand, "Shall we then?"
Sherlock grasped John's steady hand with his own trembling one without thought and John hauled him to his feet.
Lestrade walked along one side of him while John took the other and together they guided him through the halls of the hospital. A few times he stumbled or had to stop and step around something only he could see and once he jumped with a small cry of surprise and grabbed Lestrade by the arm, causing the detective inspector to smirk. Eventually they made it to the car Lestrade had driven them in and John climbed into the back seat with his flatmate, watching him closely as he gazed out the window, head resting back on the seat.
A slow smile appeared on his face and he brought a hand up to the foggy window to lazily trace a pattern.
"Alright?" John asked quietly, not wanting to startle him back into a bad trip. He never wanted to see the man in that state again.
He saw Lestrade glance at them in the rear view mirror.
"Look, John." Sherlock answered, his voice uncharacteristically soft as he pointed out the window. "Isn't it beautiful?"
John grinned and followed Sherlock's pointing finger to the lights flashing by outside the darkened window. "I suppose." He watched as Sherlock's shaggy head rolled to face him, pale eyes locking on to his face like a heat seeking missile. After a moment of the unusual stare, unusual in the sense that Sherlock wasn't wracking his eyes over every inch of him looking for information, he was simply...watching, he finally asked, "What?"
"You're so..." His eyebrows drew together, likely seeing a thousand possible words flash before his eyes, before settling on "...strong."
Thrown off guard by the strange compliment, John stuttered, "How do you mean?"
"Strong. Hard. Unyielding like a rock. Simple and formidable. Shatter glass and break bone and blend in seamlessly when needed. Innocent. Unsuspecting...but dangerous all the same." He trailed off, his head rolling again to look at the ceiling of the car.
John was left speechless for a moment in the wake of Sherlock's words. He'd never been witness to the man's honest opinion.
"Wow." Lestrade deadpanned from the front seat. "Never thought I'd see the day when Sherlock's tongue got this loose."
"Loose tongue." Sherlock repeated absently, still staring at the roof, eyes narrowed, head a million miles away. His voice dipped down to an octave that John had never heard before that made the hairs on his arms stand on end in a way that was not wholly unpleasant. "Loose...tongue..." He tapped his knuckles against the foggy glass, rolling the words on his tongue like he was trying to tie a cherry stem into an intricate knot, humming deeply, contently; a sound that resounded low in his throat like a lion's purr and John's wide eyes caught Lestrade shifting in his seat.
He didn't have much time to contemplate what that might mean because Sherlock suddenly groaned and rolled down his window.
"It's so hot." He complained, eyes closed tightly.
"Shit." John cursed, feeling his stomach cramp with worry. He quickly rolled down his own window, filling the car with cold, damp wind. "Lestrade, put the windows down."
"What's going on?" He asked, shooting concerned looks through the rear view mirror.
"Possible symptom of high dosages of LSD: hyperthermia." John explained as they finally pulled in to 221B. "Help me get him upstairs."
Sherlock had desperately ripped his shirt open when they pulled him from the car and John took a moment and pressed a hand to his head, then his chest. "His skin is dry, he isn't sweating. Definitely hyperthermia."
He and Lestrade helped Sherlock up the stairs where he promptly collapsed onto the floor.
"Open the windows and turn on that fan!" John barked, falling to his knees beside his flat mate. In seconds he had removed all of Sherlock's clothing except his black trousers. "Now, help me get him to the bathroom. Quickly!"
They dragged Sherlock to his feet and the three of them stumbled awkwardly down the hall to the bathroom, propping the genius up against the side of the tub.
"He's not going to like this." John muttered absently as he pulled the digital thermometer from the cabinet over the sink.
Lestrade eyed the instrument, suddenly looking uncomfortable, "Uhh..."
"It's an oral thermometer, Greg, not to worry."
Lestrade exhaled. "Thank god."
John lightly tapped Sherlock's face, trying to bring his focus back.
A pale hand darted out with shocking accuracy and gripped John's wrist, blue eyes blazing almost as hot as his skin. "Please don't, John, your skin is much too warm." He let go almost immediately, apparently unable to bear the heat of the skin on skin contact.
"Put this in your mouth." John ordered firmly, not wanting to give the man a chance to say no.
"Do it, or we'll hold you down and-"
Sherlock snatched the thermometer out of his hand and petulantly stuck it under his tongue.
A moment later it beeped and Sherlock pulled it from his mouth like a lollipop, handing it silently back to John.
"Bad?" Lestrade asked, walking over to look. "Shit!"
Sherlock had partially turned to drape himself over the edge of the tub, his breath labored. "John, I'm so hot." He muttered, pressing his face to the cool porcelain.
Lestrade suddenly appeared with a wet cloth that he pressed to the back on the consulting detective's neck, making him jump from the shock and then eliciting a groan of appreciation. His hand snaked up to grab the cloth himself, dragging it down his arms and across his chest, but within seconds it was as hot as his skin and he tossed it away angrily.
He hauled a breath into his lungs, his ribs popping, and exhaled into a gasp, then did it again. And again, eye lids fluttering. John met Lestrade's worried gaze and grabbed for the thermometer again, gently holding it in Sherlock's mouth till it beeped.
He looked at it. "Ok. Help me get him into the tub." He said calmly but urgently, grabbing a now unresponsive detective under the arms.
"Into the tub?" Lestrade parroted dumbly.
"Yes, Lestrade, his temperature is climbing, we need to bring it down."
"Shouldn't we take him to the hospital then?"
"Not yet. I don't want to stress him out like that again if we don't have to. Now come on!"
They lifted him into the tub and John motioned for Greg to turn on the shower. "We want cool, not freezing."
As soon as the water hit his skin, Sherlock gave a jolt, his eyes flying open and he made to escape the tub with a distressed cry, but John gripped his arms and held him in place.
"I know, I know, I know..." John said gently, feeling terrible when Sherlock struggled against him.
"J-John!" he stuttered, teeth clattering together.
"You're fine, Sherlock. You're alright." He soothed, feeling the detective's muscles twitching under his hands.
"Your skin feels cold but your internal temperature is dangerously high. You need to stay put for a bit longer or you'll end up back in hospital." John explained, hoping Sherlock understood through the drug.
Unfortunately though, his brain seemed too occupied with trying to convince his body to get away from the cold water and he continued to struggle. "Please!"
"Nope, sorry Sherlock."
A few moments passed and Sherlock's struggles weakened into nothing and he lay draped over the edge of the tub, shivering, water soaked through his pants and hair, breathing raggedly.
"Greg, the thermometer." John said, holding out his hand. He was more than relieved when he saw it was back down to a near normal temperature.
They turned off the water and Greg put some towels on the floor, lending an arm for Sherlock to lean on as he steadied himself on his feet. They got him to his room and John helped him into the first pair of dry pants he grabbed, which was a pair of drawstring pajama bottoms, while Lestrade turned his back, John almost thought he saw a faint blush on the man's cheeks, and then finally, finally they got Sherlock to the couch where he promptly turned on his side and curled into a miserable ball.
"Why can't I sleep in my bed?" He moaned.
Lestrade eyed the skull on the mantle with a distrustful eye, while John disappeared upstairs to change into a dry shirt. "Because you're high as a kite and Watson's worried you'll jump out your window if he leaves you to your own devices."
Sherlock blinked. "Oh."
Lestrade took a seat in 'John's' chair and fixed his eyes on Sherlock.
"Why would I jump out my window?"
"Sometimes people think they can fly."
The detective's face distorted in confusion, "People can't...why would...that's stupid."
"Not up to your usual standards."
Sherlock scoffed, continuing to stare straight ahead. "Words. Words are...words are..."
"Hard?" Lestrade supplied with a smirk.
"Words are colors on canvas." His drugged mind supplied.
"How so?" Lestrade asked, staring absently at his fingernails.
"You can tell a whole story with a few words. Each word like a different color, a different brush stroke, one small change, like a letter or a shade, can change the whole tone, alter the ending, the final product."
John was frowning as he entered the sitting room. "What do you mean 'words are like colors'?"
"You know. A is blue, B is green, C is grey..."
John saw Lestrade glance over at him, like he wasn't sure if Sherlock was losing his mind or it was just the drugs talking and a small smile twitched on the good doctor's lips while he explained.
"That is known as Synesthesia. A neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory pathway leads to involuntary experiences in a second sensory pathway. Over sixty types of synesthesia have been reported but the most common is what Sherlock is describing: Grapheme-Color Synesthesia." John shook his head, staring fondly at his strange flat mate, "Letters or numbers, or both sometimes, are perceived as inherently colored."
"Oh goodie." Sherlock deadpanned from the couch, voice dripping with acid. "Another thing to separate me from the common drivel."
"Sherlock, it isn't that odd. In fact, it is estimated that one in twenty three people has some form of synesthesia-"
"John, do please shut up." The slight tremor in Sherlock's voice kept him from getting upset.
He merely sighed, watching in concern as his flatmate clenched and unclenched his fists, his eyes staring absently across the room. He could almost see the internal battle that was raging inside his head; logic trying to hack away at the hallucinations that were overrunning his mind like vines overtaking an old house.
"So. You feeling any better?"
"Well, my father is no longer lurking over your shoulder, staring at me with his demon eyes, so that is always a good thing."
"No purple people or dragons dancing around then?" Lestrade asked quickly, not wanting Sherlock's mind to wonder back into 'father' territory again.
Sherlock frowned. "No, just...swirling colors and fantastically coordinated geometrical shapes."
The detective inspector glanced down at his watch and then heaved himself out of the chair with a groan. "Well, must be off." He smirked, "This was fun!"
John moved to show him to the door.
"Thank you, Lestrade." When Greg and John turned to look, Sherlock hadn't moved but his ice blue eyes were staring intently and alertly into Lestrade's.
The man bobbed his head with a genuine smile. "Anytime." Then his face fell comically, "Er, within reason. Don't, you know, go making this a habit."
After John had seen the D.I. to the door and returned, Sherlock had stretched out on the couch, hands draped over his abdomen. "You feeling up to some tea?"
He got no response, so made a cup for himself before taking his normal chair, settling in for what was sure to be a long night.
A week later had John walking beside Sherlock as the two of them arrived on a new crime scene lined with a lot of yellow tape and several squad cars and it wasn't long before Lestrade made his way over to them.
"Boy, have I got a head scratcher for you two!"
They came to the body of a man lying face down in the grass and John was more than a little unhappy to see both Donovan and Anderson standing over it. They hadn't seen the irritating officers since the hospital but John had been hoping to avoid seeing them a bit longer. The two agents looked up as they approached with their boss and John saw Sally's eyes widen slightly as she blurted out a, "How are you-" before cutting herself off, cheeks flaming red.
Sherlock cocked his head to the side, eyes narrowed like he was trying to work through a particularly vexing puzzle. "How am I what?"
But she merely shook her head, unable to meet his eye in what was unmistakably a moment of embarrassment. "Nothing, Holmes."
She left with Anderson in tow.
John looked over, smiling at the dumbstruck look on Sherlock's face. "If I didn't know any better, I'd say she'd been about to ask how you were feeling." He rocked back on his heels, enjoying the utter confusion on Sherlock's face. After a moment, the taller man turned to regard him, apparently no closer to figuring out the answer to whatever question he'd asked himself.
"She called me Holmes." He said pointlessly.
"Well, that is your name." John supplied. Unable to hold it in any longer, he burst out laughing when his friend still didn't get it. "Don't worry about it, Sherlock. Sentiment."
Sherlock's pale features smoothed themselves out, apparently that one word was enough to make him realize this was a puzzle he just wouldn't be able to understand.
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