Human Error (2/?)Fandom/Pairing:
BBC Sherlock, Sherlock/John (with Mary/John still ongoing; Molly/Greg as side pairing)Genre:
Explicit (later on)Warnings:
Mild (i.e. one-time) drug abuse, murder and mayhem included. Also, I'm not saying anybody's going to die, but I'm also not saying nobody is ;)Summary:
With John settling into married life and Sherlock continuing his work as a consulting detective, things seem to have finally reached a comfortable stasis. Underneath, however, emotions are running high and a drug-induced confession from Sherlock changes everything. Combined with Moriarty's apparent return, Sherlock and John realise one thing: The game is still on.Author's notes:
I'm currently writing the 8th chapter and expect the fic to have about 12-15 in total. I'll be posting a new one every week (though the three first ones in one go as I've been posting them on Ao3 already).
Sherlock stumbled out of the bedroom, his mind as hazy and useless as his weary legs, but the heavy throbbing of his head and a strong urge to take a piss had kept him from sleeping any longer. As he made his way from the bathroom to the kitchen, he squinted against the faint daylight that streamed in through the window, and he could barely focus on his surroundings. Just one thought had manifested clearly in his mind, one he had reminded himself of in his last sober moments: check the notes.
Leaning heavily against the kitchen table, he blinked and tried to focus his gaze on the spot where he had put the small notebook, and despite the dizziness and nausea he managed to read the two words on the white paper before his whole body rebelled against the physical strain and the after-effects of the toxic substance in his system. Faster than he would have considered possible in his current state, he reached the bathroom and just managed to kneel down in front of the toilet before he delivered the few contents of his stomach into the ceramic bowl. When he was done heaving and retching, weakly having reached the flush, he remained on the ground, leaning against the bathtub to catch his breath.
So he had hallucinated John as he’d expected. Sherlock couldn’t make up his mind on whether he was glad he had also experienced complete memory loss or not. Same as his client, he had no recollection of the events of the previous night, and his body but more so his mind were too exhausted to go over all the evidence and clues to reconstruct what must have happened. It was irrelevant anyway, though he hated the feeling of not being in full control of his mental capacities.
Caffeine should help. Also sufficient hydration and rest, as John would surely remind him of, were he here.
What had he done last night, when he had believed to see his former flatmate? Had he imagined an usual, every-day situation such as them watching the telly? Had John commented on his deductions and potential experiments (he had intended to check the drug for various possible substances)? Had the interaction between them been atypical, maybe even frightening or disturbing as drug-induced hallucinations often could be? He wished he had written down more than just ‘hall.: John’, though the precise character of his hallucinations were of no importance to the case.
The case. Sherlock tried to go over the details, the possible scenarios and explanations he had thought of previously, but every time he tried to follow one thought it blurred away into nothingness. He growled in frustration before his limbs finally felt steady enough for him to get up and rinse his mouth at the sink. He’d brush his teeth later, but first things first.
Waiting for the kettle to boil so he could make coffee, he forced himself to drink two glasses of water in small sips. His stomach gurgled and twisted and he wondered whether he should at least eat a dry slice of bread before drinking any coffee, but the thought made him nauseous again.
The father: hallucinated. Jimmy had not said anything about the cash box. Whom had he seen? What had he seen?
John. What had John said and done when Sherlock had willed him into existence?
Sherlock growled and pressed his hands to his head. Focus on the case! But it was to no avail; Sherlock’s mind did not want to cooperate.
It hadn’t been the first time Sherlock’s mind had created such an illusion. In the two long years of absence from London, such figments had often been Sherlock’s only consolation. He had always known such thoughts to be a simple memory projection (except perhaps one time in Iran when he had investigated a small cell associated with Moriarty and been invited to smoke some opium; and there, too, it had been wishful thinking the powerful euphoria had caused rather than a true hallucination).
Hallucinations could bring forth a person’s strongest desires, his greatest fears and most twisted fantasies. And yet, knowing himself and all these factors, Sherlock was unable to deduce what he might have seen.
While his thoughts had continued to circle this question, he had functioned on auto-pilot and, unsurprisingly, found himself in his arm chair, a half-empty cup of coffee - the second one; cold now - on the side table. His body slowly started to feel better, yet his thought processes were still slow and one-dimensional.
“Only five weeks into escaping exile, and already you’re falling into old habits. Again.”
Sherlock let out a faint sigh and rolled his eyes. For a minuscule moment he had hoped the voice he had heard was a mere hallucination, too, but then again, in his current mindset, he would have used that knowledge to let it end in violence, and he felt much too drained for such things.
“Sherlock,” the voice continued; its source remained outside his peripheral vision, although ignoring it could only work for so long. “I can tell.”
Another sigh. “Not a habit, and not an old one. It was for a case.”
“Really? Hardly a case worth solving, is it? A simple burglary. Abuse of recreational drugs involved, as I can tell from the failed experiment currently oozing onto your rug, and a specific book you couldn’t find. Seymour and Smith, was it? Redundant for the case, really. Any village bobby could have figured it out.”
“Well then, solve it”, Sherlock replied, too tired and miserable to engage into a verbal battle of wits, but even so deliberately appearing nonchalant. He didn’t even know when Mycroft had got here. Not that he really cared.
“That’s not the reason of my being here, little brother. I have full confidence in your abilities to do so yourself. Once your mind is up to par.”
Despite his previous intention to just ignore the intruder, Sherlock’s head snapped around and he glared at his brother. “Did you come here to taunt me or do you actually want to be useful, Mycroft?”
“Useful? Oh, I believe I’m being highly useful to you, Sherlock.” Mycroft stood by the door, his weight (sadly two pounds less than last time he’d seen him) casually supported on that ridiculous umbrella (no rain for the next two days). Like a bad caricature of an English gentleman that would only require a bowler hat to make a perfect image to amuse any dim-witted tourist.
“What do you want? Control every step that I take again? It was for a case, Mycroft. I took the drug once and I don’t intend to try it again,” he shot back, annoyed. His head started throbbing again with the exertion of his stream of words. He really only meant to take it once, and he ignored the thought that, had the drug caused only the hallucination but not destroyed any recollection of it, he may have just given in to it once more.John. What had he and John been talking about, been doing? What had Sherlock allowed himself to do and say to a mere figment of his imagination?
“There won’t be a need for me to control all your steps, Sherlock, if you promise not to give me another reason,” Mycroft replied with that small, smug grin on his face, the bastard.
“Oh, okay, brother dear, I’m so sorry. I will never, ever do drugs again,” Sherlock said in a mock-theatrical voice. “Now please piss off.”
Instead of giving in to Sherlock’s demands, Mycroft now walked closer and sat down in John’s chair. His grin had disappeared, and instead his brow was furrowed (oh, new wrinkles, old ones about 12% deeper and more prominent). Although anybody else would have found his features to express nothing but boredom, there was a clear sign of anger and disappointment in Mycroft’s frown. In his eyes, however - something Sherlock couldn’t overlook even if he wanted to - genuine concern. It was most disconcerting.
“All right. Let’s have it then,” Sherlock prompted in the vague hope that there could at least be one use to Mycroft’s unwanted visit.
“Sherlock,” the older Holmes brother started, understanding fully that Sherlock wanted answers. His voice was less patronising than reasoning, which annoyed the younger one even more. “Patience was never your strongest suit. But I assure you, everything will play out to your advantage and satisfaction.”
Sherlock snorted. “And of course I have every reason to trust you.”
“You do,” Mycroft replied, almost affronted.
“That would be a lot easier if you actually let me in on your plan.”
“You know everything I can tell you.”
“Really? Hm…” Sherlock pursed his lips as if he were considering the words while, in fact, it drove him up the walls not knowing and not being able to figure it out. “No. You already know that I know of your little charade. The rest are just specifics which you are keeping from me for god knows what reason. Could be a mistake. Your secret-keeping could lead to my death if I’m trying to find it out myself. And we both know that would break your heart.” Sherlock gave his brother a mock-sweet smile. He ignored the painful growling in his stomach and the throbbing headache, at least for the moment.
Mycroft rolled his eyes, obviously not responding to what he believed was a childish display of defiance. Damn him.
“I assure you I have considered all eventualities carefully. However, a little trust and assistance from you would be beneficial.” A tiny, scolding smirk briefly appeared on Mycroft’s lips before he turned serious again. “Believe me, your lack of knowledge is for your own good, Sherlock.”
Sherlock realised there was no point to another sarcastic retort; he studied his brother’s features for a few moments, hands brought up underneath his chin. Finally, he let out a resigned sigh. “But is it for John’s, as well?”
Mycroft did not respond.
“That’s what I thought.”
“Sherlock, there will come a time when you’ll thank me,” Mycroft continued after a while, and Sherlock tried hard to ignore the apparent sincerity in his brother’s words, too angry and frustrated for the lack of proper communication, and too mistrusting. What qualified as ideal outcome - or most ideal, given the circumstances - was something they often had vastly different definitions of. Same as previously, when ‘everything will be all right’ had turned into him losing the person most important to him.
“If you have nothing else to add please do not burden me further with your presence.”
Mycroft rose from the armchair slowly and straightened his jacket. Two steps from the door, he turned towards Sherlock once more. “I do hope you solve this case soon and without incident, little brother.” The mockery barely concealed Mycroft’s concern, and Sherlock almost couldn’t bear it any longer. He preferred him being a rude arse to an overcaring mother hen.
Mycroft raised his head and directed his gaze towards the window, a moment before Sherlock, himself, had registered the sounds outside. “I believe someone else shares my interest in that. Have a good day, Sherlock. Do consider carefully what you are doing.”
Drugs again or letting John in on what little Sherlock knew of Mycroft’s agenda? Probably both.
“And clean up this mess. It’s unbecoming of someone like you.”
“Fuck off, Mycroft.”
Sherlock kept his eyes closed and did not open them again until he had heard his brother leave the building and the swift steps of a lighter, shorter person with a specific step pattern and sound reach the upper landing. As he looked back towards the opened door, John appeared in it a second later. Not a word of greeting, he just nodded faintly before he took in his surroundings. No look of surprise or puzzlement on his features as he spotted the chaos but concern visible on his features instead.
“You all right?” John asked and came a little closer but not as close as usual. Hands in his pockets, he was hesitating, and he looked back towards the mess on the floor, although clearly not to examine it. Had Mycroft told him on his way out? No, not enough time for that. Odd.
> part 2 <