John can't decide if it's raining or not. Sherlock doesn't understand. Just a bit of nonsense.
DISCLAIMER: I own nuzzing, except my own slightly twisted imagination. Characters belong to Sir A.C.D and in this format to Messrs Moftatt & Gatiss. As much as I like to borrow them occasionally, I'm always glad to give them back; they drive me bonkers.
John can't decide if it's raining or not. The moisture in the air is cloying, but still holds a chill. Not a mist, but not yet a drizzle. It's as if it started to fall, but stopped to think, perhaps dwelling on the sensation of falling and is just there, suspended in time, not sure if it wants to continue. He can see the sheet of wet undulating in the beams of a car's headlights; it will turn to rain any second.
"Nonsense." Sherlock mumbles.
John closes the window and turns to look at him. He is lying upside on the sofa with his feet over the back and his head dangling near the floor. The dark circles under his closed eyes are even more pronounced at this angle.
"When was the last time you slept?"
"38 hours and 23 minutes ago."
"I think you should try again." John is no fool. He knows when Sherlock is tired. The two day case was completed hours ago, he should be long asleep. And he'd bet that last sleep hadn't been a full night either. But his friend is not a child and John is not a parent, so his voice is casual, it's just a suggestion.
"I'll go at ten o'clock."
His acquiescence is a pleasant surprise, but then John supposes Sherlock knows when he needs it better than most.
Normally he doesn't mind sharing a companionable silence with his flatmate in the evening. But when he looks quite as wrecked as he does now it makes John feel wrecked too. A comfortable silence is a lot less comfortable when one person is worrying and the other annoyed at them for doing it.
His armchair plomps satisfactorily when he drops his weight into it and the book tucked down the side is still there, ready for him to find the folded page and pick up where he left off. He can't focus though; the air is too heavy and so is the concern. One day, he fears, Sherlock will burn himself out and fall apart and there will just be too many pieces for John to pick up. He makes sure to turn his pages at the same rate he would when reading normally, because he knows some portion of Sherlock's brain is listening and recording and processing the information. And though it is rare for him to enquire after anybody's well being, he often deduces it from the simple regularities of everyday activities.
John peers over, hoping to remain undetected, and watches as those full defined lips murmur to themselves. Who knows what they are saying? Reciting and rewriting chemical formulas or recalling a scripted conversation on the last episode of Eastenders, it could be anything. They pause for a second and Sherlock's brow furrows as he struggles to remember, before picking up at the same speed. A long slim hand raises in the air, the index finger twitching as though flicking though sheets of paper.
"What did you mean?" The terse ejection of words is sudden in the thick silence of the room and John's shoulders jump, the shock radiating out from his sternum.
He frowns. He hasn't said anything for a good five minutes. And then it was a simple enquiry of sleep. He must be referring to something else, but John can't, for the life of him, imagine what it is. Conscious of appearing an ignorant buffoon (always a risk in this friendship), John leaves it and says nothing. Mystery is not uncommon in their conversations, but when the silence returns it is even thicker. And the fingers flick even faster. The creases of his forehead remain in place.
"I don't know..."
It is not directed to him, but John hears it. It is quietly said, but desperation bleeds through and blooms in every tiny syllable. The book tucks back down beside his thigh and he leans forward.
"What's the matter?"
"I can't find it."
Sherlock is a fountain of knowledge, a master of multi-tasking. He can function pretty much every sector of his brain at once, switching undetectably between each incredibly efficient activity and rarely losing concentration in any of them. Some people (Sherlock included) call him a genius; John knows it is more than that. He is not only the efficient humming machine; he is the loyal hard-working engineer too, keeping it fuelled and well oiled. Right now the engineer is getting tired and the engine is stuttering, under only one task. And Sherlock, no matter what he might snap to the contrary, is panicking.
There is hardly any point in replying. John can't even comprehend what a mind palace looks like, let alone how to navigate one. "Can't find what?"
Sherlock waves the hand dismissively, his wrist twisting in another possibility before flicking that away too. The pulse in his neck is accelerating. His fingertips tremble as if speed-reading Braille in the air. His breath puffs in and out too quickly.
"Sherlock! What is the matter?" The panic is obviously contagious. John feels his shoulders begin to tense, his arms bulging with unease. Something is wrong, something terrible. He can only begin to imagine what Sherlock has lost and how difficult it must be to try and find it.
The fluttering eyelids snap open instantly, pupils and icy blue irises struggling to adjust to the sudden change in light, but they focus upside down on John regardless. "Mizzle."
"Mizzle?" What the-?
"What did you mean? I have no reference of it in this context. I do not understand."
John huffs out a sigh of relief, wanting to laugh and knowing he mustn't. "Is that all it is?"
"I should know. It should be here. Mizzle. Miz-zle." He rolls the word around his mouth, as though it might help. His head ticks to the side to pick up and discard from his internal reference library. His dark dangling curls swaying drunkenly in the air. "Mizzle: disappear, leave, decamp. That's not what you mean, that makes even less sense than usual. Mizzen: nautical, sail. Missal: prayers, rites. Missile... No! What is your mizzle? John!"
His smile is unwelcome, a frown from across the room attempts to banish it. "Mizzle is just a word, Sherlock. It means almost rain. Misty drizzle. That's all."
"Mizzle." His eyes shutter closed and the raised fingers pinch as if grabbing onto the words and then release, letting it fly off to a specified location for him to recall another time. A content sigh as yet another miniscule space is immediately occupied, a gap filled. "Thank you John."
"Go to bed."
"Is it ten o'clock?"
John glances at his watch, the hands just grazing half past nine. "Yes, Sherlock. It is."
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