Chapter 1: debacle
Now posted as its own work too, but will remain here as well.
(prompt words 'winter and snow')
It’s melting now.
Turning into droplets, evaporating into steam, seeping through your skin.
It’s melting, and you know he’s watching it. Watching as it trickles down your spine, gathering at the concave of your lumbar. Watching you shiver, tensing up from the sensation of snow turning water turning steam.
His fingerprints. Almost electric, the way they warm up against your skin just after he’s let some more snow fall between your scapulas. They travel slowly, just like the melting snow, making their way up your neck vertebrae, nesting in the warmth of your scalp. Just a bit of pressure, and your cheek nudges the snow underneath, your attempts to lift your head up just a bit are annihilated as his finger thread through your hair with a hit of force.
London is beautiful like this, you’ve always thought.
Cracking your eyes open you see the lights from miles and miles of buildings, a rooftop view made even more crystalline from the shivers and the clear, starlit sky above.
The snow surrounding you is almost untouched. From where you’re located, the stretch of the white mass on the roof seems almost endless, the edge of the roof almost a horizon where the dark meets the glowing white.
It’s a breath that finally breaks you.
A single breath, humid warmth against the skin of your neck. A whisper, lacking words.
It breaks the thin layer of ice that kept your mind from noticing just how much your skin burns everywhere it comes into contact with the snow. You break, break out in shivers, break out in gasps.
He holds you while you breaks, his breath lighting up the map of your skin like the ghost of a firefly.
“You see,” he murmurs, “I can always break you out of your own mind.”
Then, after a few more exhales against the base of your skull, “I promised you I would.”
Chapter 2: untangle
(prompt words 'a pleasant stim')
Now also posted as its own work, with the same title.
Twitching, fiddling, searching.
Running over the inner seam of his pyjama bottoms before exploring the already well-known bottom seam at the end of the leg.
It looks haphazard.
It’s a practical matter, the matter of his fingers.
Most things Sherlock does with his fingers seems impatient, restless. The way he throws and catches his phone when listening to John’s retelling of his run-in with a witness, the way he drums his fingers against any available surface when he’s waiting for something -anything- to finally come to an end.
It’s a trick, almost a magic trick:
Because it isn’t what it looks like, yet it is. It’s a disguise that turned into a tool, an underlining of what he want people to see. The restlessness of his fingers will - used for drumming and tapping and throwing things - just accentuate the barely contained force of energy and sharpness that serves his official persona so well. It brings an edge to his intellect, and it keeps his fingers busy.
Another magic trick:
Here, in the dim light of the kitchen, his fingers are allowed other outlets. Outside, the night is slowly turning morning, and the white noise of the traffic outside mixed with the hum of their refrigerator signals to his fingers that no filters are needed, that they can choose where they want to go, how they want to move.
And the delayed circadian rhythms he’s endured for as long as he can recall makes sense at times like these. Because it’s in the midst of the night, in the wake of the morning, that his fingers finds their way into ringlets and tangles.
Twisting. Stroking. Untangling.
The ever shifting pressure on his scalp as he finds new strands to untangle, new ringlets to twist around his fingers. Hair that has only seen conditioner - never shampoo - for over a decade; a silky sensation as a single curl bounces off from where it was curled around his finger.
And most things Sherlock Holmes does seems deliberate, meaningful, if you look very closely. Yet, many people wonder why he keeps his hair the way he does, why someone a bit shy of forty would keep a head full of cherub like curls.
The reason is this:
As fingers work through curls, thoughts work through data. Untangling. Easing knots and finding the solution that had been just out of reach for days and hours.
It’s a practical matter, the matter of hair.
Twisting. Stroking. Untangling.
Chapter 3: instinct
Now also posted as its own work, with the same title.
“Wait... hold on, have you ever…?
His words are vibrations against your lips - your mouth chasing his as he attempts to break away just a little, just to get his words out.
(No; no - you haven’t, and no - you don’t want him to get any more words out.)
There’s a warm thigh pressed up between your legs and there are hands roaming over your shoulders-neck-scalp… and there’s finally this; a shared instinct, a search for release by another body, a social protocol being left aside for something much older and far more biological.
(And you might be more confident in matters that involves bodies no longer alive - bodies bereth of all language, and of all of the other things that make people assume their own superiority over other living creatures - but you are still confident in this; the intrinsic instinct of one warm body pressed against another warm, living body.)
“Sherlock, it doesn’t matter to me, I just need to know if this is new to…”
His words are escaping, and your body acts on reflex; chasing them back into his mouth, sucking them out through the skin of his throat, licking them from where they spilled over his lips.
(No; no - you’re right, it doesn’t matter, and no - this isn’t new--)
--it’s the oldest instinct buried inside of each human being, and whilst you might like to deny it at times, you know this; you are nothing but very human.
Chapter 4: instinct (version III)
For 2am_limbo, who said this was their favourite version of this ficlet.
So. Same theme - different ficlet. For my friend-in-letters.
Now also posted as its own work, with the same title.
“Have you ever… before?”
And no, you haven’t, but that’s not something you just say. Not when there’s a strong thigh between your legs and not when your lungs are filled with the the air that’s escaping from a mouth that’s just a word's distance from yours. The inquiry is irrelevant, and you want to tell him so, but words do have a tendency to get tangled up and become something other than what you had planned them to be, and this is just not the time for such sidings.
(This is the time for fingers skimming over bare skin and muscles flexing in search of friction and pressure building up inside your spine just like it does when you imagine things like this, but you’re not imagining now, so please please please don’t let it slip away because of…words.)
“Sherlock, are you…”
And instead of offering an answer that will make neither of you any more equipped for what’s ahead, you offer up your tongue, licking deep into his mouth, giving and taking and giving back. It’s almost like words, but you’re not sure if he knows this language. He’s supposed to be the expert, but he can’t be, can he? Then he would know that such questions have no relevance for the proceedings, know that this is something even your body knows how to do without ever having done it.
(And he’s an idiot, always an idiot, but even more so in this. He is supposedly the expert on live bodies and you’re the one who can read the no longer living ones, but still he doesn’t understand this one thing about living creatures - this all is instinct, it’s a dance that was choreographed before language was even a concept.)
“Fuck. Fuck, that’s… I’m not going to last.”
No, he won’t, and nothing ever does, and that’s just the point. Lasting would be painful, the prospect of release is what makes this surge and pressure and almost-pain something almost… valid in itself. Something that’s a breath away from erupting and spilling out and escaping from its bounds. And when it does, it’s no more, so then, what was it ever for?
(It would be for you. For the body you usually neglect, but that you won't deny this one thing. And for your mind, because it's carnal and biological, but so is your brain, whether you choose to accept it or not.)
Chapter 5: Polaris
Now also posted as its own work, with the same title.
Sherlock Holmes is the kind of person that shows up and takes over the entire room with his mere presence.
It is, therefore, not so strange to think about how he also showed up and invaded the life of one John Watson.
What is strange, however, is that this particular John Watson would let him.
But he did, he really did. Sherlock would point and John would follow, sometimes blindly. He would complain, he would make sarcastic remarks and he would try to ignore the man who were pointing, but he eventually he would always follow, in some way or another relived just to have a direction. Because that was one of the many things he'd been lacking when Sherlock showed up.
For the first time since he was fourteen, John Watson had felt that total and utter lack of direction, the kind that leaves a void that cripples a person more than any limp or trashed shoulder ever could.
Sherlock offered what John was desperately missing. John took what was offered, filling his cup, filling his life up until the echo of emptiness became less and less pronounced. It was codependency at its finest, it was need at its barest.
It was love, or something like it.
Sherlock Holmes is the kind of person who is prone to addiction.
It is, therefore, not strange to consider how fast and how seemingly unavoidable he grew addicted to the companionship with one John Watson.
What is strange, however, is how that addiction led to a shift between them, one they never acknowledged or maybe even thought about.
If you feed someone who is hungry, eventually they'll grow stronger and learn how to hunt for food themselves. And John was nothing but fast when it came to adapt to new situations. Once he grew used to the new direction - to once again have a direction - he began finding directions for himself.
It helped, of course, that the man he followed also needed him. It helped, because when Sherlock at rare times found himself temporarily lost, it was John he looked to, it was John he set his eyes - all contained desperation at the sudden loss of ground - on, and it was John who found himself discreetly nodding Sherlock back to the path.
Where Sherlock had once given himself to self-destruction as the very last resource, he now gave himself to John. It was unspoken, a slow transition, but in the end, it became the ultimate proof that Sherlock Holmes had given himself fully to an addiction. It was, after all, the only addiction he ever died for.
It was, however, also the only addiction he lived for.
He found himself living for the breathless laughter at inappropriate moments, for silent agreement on the sight of a crime, for the little crinkle between John Watson’s eyebrows when Sherlock began to lead them both astray.
The silent disagreement was the final proof that while Sherlock Holmes led, John Watson was his Polaris, his rarely used navigation system. Because John would let Sherlock lead the way, but in time, John became the one who led Sherlock. He would still follow - only a step behind - but he wouldn't let Sherlock lead them just anywhere.
For the first time since he was eleven, Sherlock had someone who grounded him, someone who was unshakeable and ruthlessly steady in all the ways he never was. And Sherlock would look to him for direction, wouldn't let himself stray in any direction where John Watson wouldn't follow him. It was codependency at its finest, addiction at its rawest.
It was love, or something that was at least very close to it.
Chapter 6: rituals
This is very much unedited at posting. And even more haphazard than the previous ones.
Now also posted as its own work, with the same title.
You're pulling too hard, and you're distantly aware of this, but your hand just won't let go of the tangled curls that’s floating and curling from in-between your fingers, tickling the skin of your knuckles.
And your own body, your own skin - it’s being bruised-bit-broken just as hard. And against your left pectoral, too hot breath is painting the skin with ragged exhales while long fingers keeps rocking, keeps invading your body relentlessly somewhere in-between the mess of almost-kisses/almost-bruises and friction.
Broken blood vessels mends and finger-shaped bruises fades. You wish it wasn't so, because there are other marks that will not fade and other injuries that will not mend, and you would rather wear the marks of a lover having fucked you too intensely than any of the marks you wear now. But traces of brutal need doesn't last as long as the evidence of mass-produced weapons in the hands of desperate, traumatised men.
The world is at war - against itself, against everything that moves, against common sense and against anything that isn't producing more money to burn.
This - the two of you - produces nothing. Nothing more than sweat and heat and temporary respite from cars closing up too close and bodies turning cold. Still, there's hands on your body and hips meeting yours and it's enough - more than enough - for you to tune out anything that isn't teeth biting down too hard and skin turning sore.
Somewhere far away, somewhere outside the space between your bodies someone is screaming, someone else is watching and letting it happen. It won't stop happening.
(It never stops.)
Inside your mind there are images that will never ever fade, of bodies killed by more hateful things than disease or accidents, of eyes so empty they can no longer be filled. But if you open your eyes right now you can stare into eyes so vivid they will force you to blink, look away, gather yourself before once again meeting the gaze that holds a very different chaos than the one inside your nightmares.
A chaos that brings warmth in the midst of the clear, icy chill caused by blown-out windows, the glass-splinters sprinkled over your floor like snow, reinforcing the memories of other wars, other deaths.
And you can't fuck any of that away, but you can do things, primal, human things; things that will drown out anything that is not radiating heat the way two bodies do - performing ancient rituals; rituals that your body knew before you yourself knew words, before you knew fear.
And you like to think it's just like that; that this is older than any of your scars, older than your fear. Because then you can return to this, to bodies tangling up, to lips bruising and to the muscle memory of something you've always known, and nothing that you fear will be there, it'll be just as abstract as the future always is. And there will only be this; his body rocking into yours and your hands around his wrists and his skin almost diffusing into yours, and there you'll have respite from broken glass and broken scapulas and everything that can shatter and spill.
There will be only this.
Chapter 7: still
(a ficlet answer to the question 'how does sex feel when your brain is unable to shut itself off?' a.k.a. "adhd and it being fucking enough")
There was a post on tumblr about there being very few fics that illustrated how it felt to have sex when you have adhd, and I just had to... try.
Now posted own its own too, but stays here as well.
Heavily unedited, impulsive kind of thing. Or; "haphazard".
He needs this.
Sherlock needs this like he needs homicides and violins and an audience. He needs John’s body pressed up against his, needs to taste his mouth and needs the thrill of knowing that clothes will be thrown off and skin will come into contact with skin and the pressure will build up and hips will grind and–
Still it’s not enough. It should be, it really should - he’s wanted this for hours, no, for months if one is to be accurate - but he’s still… indecisive.
It’s just minutes since John got home and Sherlock’s already got him backed up against the kitchen cupboards, John’s sounds vibrating into Sherlock’s mouth and Sherlock’s hands holding John’s head in place so he can press them even closer together just like that and–
Still, Sherlock isn’t sure what to do next. There’s still so many things that are new and novel to them - deprived things, carnal things - and Sherlock’s been distracted in his chemical analysis all day by images of all the things he craves to do to John, but now that John’s here, where he wants him to be, all those things are swirling like the image in a kaleidoscope and he can’t abide to just one single one of those things.
There’s a surge through his body as John’s hands find their way in under Sherlock’s shirt and strokes bare skin, closer-closer to the waistband of his trousers, and if those hands could just move a few inches further down Sherlock’s brain might switch off and then he wouldn’t have to chose a direction, it would just come naturally and–
Still, when John’s fingers find their way there, Sherlock wants to snap at him to stop, because it’s too much, too soon and he doesn’t want to come like this - no, he wanted more than a grope in the kitchen with their clothes mostly still on, he had plans for this, so many plans and it can’t end this soon and–
And John might feel him tensing up, because his hand retreats after just a few teasing strokes, and John is looking at him, and Sherlock forces himself to look at John - that shade of auburn really doesn’t do John’s skin any favor, and he will say something to John about the state of that sweater vest, and he’s got a really cutting remark on the tip of his tongue, the kind of remark that will make John look so intriguingly threatening and exhausted simultaneously, but then perhaps this isn’t the best time because John’s hands are now on his arse and then John’s speaking to him and Sherlock might have missed a few words already and–
John looks carnal and breathy and Sherlock has so many things in mind indeed, and he wants to do them all, but he has no idea where to start. It’s not an especially impressive quality, Sherlock thinks, to be so wanting that you end up getting lost in all the options instead of getting lost in the heat of it all.
John. Uneven breaths. Skin against skin. Friction, pressure, build up. Release. That is what he needs. But he has no idea of how he needs it, and John really isn’t helping out by just looking at him and kneading his arse and waiting for an answer to something Sherlock can’t quite articulate at this point.
They should probably talk about this at some point, but they’ve been talking for months but only fucking for weeks, and Sherlock really prefers to do novel things, so the talking hasn’t been on the top of his priorities.
Priorities. Maybe that is what it’s all about, and Sherlock’s instant and impulsive and–
Still the light in the kitchen is too harsh and the chemical compounds on the table reminds him that he’s due to check up on the discoloration rate in two hours and Sherlock wants to open John up with his fingers and fuck into him slow and hard and feel that tight-hot-pressure just like that before he comes and he will spill into John and there will be little traces of Sherlock inside John and some of it might diffuse into John’s bloodstream through osmosis and he… just don’t have the patience for that now. It’s too urgent, because they’re pressed together and one of John’s hands is unbuttoning Sherlock’s shirt and finding its way to a nipple and suddenly the thought of slowly scissoring and lubing and stretching is impossible to fathom, because he needs– now.
John’s given up on getting an answer, and instead of answers Sherlock offers his mouth on John’s and John seems to be quite satisfied with that deal, because Sherlock’s nipple is getting a very fierce pinch - and his breath hitch with the pain-pleasure-pain and suddenly it’s all hands and pressure and working John’s jeans open and gripping a warm cock and grinding them together at the same time and it’s marvellous, brilliant, decisive and–
Still it only lasts for 23 seconds, and then Sherlock’s brain is no longer muted, and what on Earth was he trying to do - stroking John while pressing himself against the too-eager handjob and frotting against his own hand just enough to limit the movements of said hand and this is not at all what he had in mind and–
Still John makes noises into his mouth and the knives on the countertop next to John is aligned in a very disturbing order but John pushes into Sherlock’s hand still. And John is working Sherlock’s trousers open too, and Sherlock tries very hard to keep a steady rhythm with his hand - it’s easier to accomplish now that John’s fumbling with Sherlock’s belt has created a small space between their hips - and then John’s hand is on Sherlock’s cock and–
And this is what he needs and it’s sparking in his synapses and his spinal cord is tingling with all the nerve signals and John pushes Sherlock’s hand away from his cock and then there’s John’s hand around them both and there’s pressure from John’s hand and from John’s cock and it’s a dual sensation that melts away cognition for just long enough for Sherlock to breathe and sense and get lost in what’s happening in his nervous system and in his cock and the tightening of his testicles and–
And it’s enough.
For a few precious seconds, it’s enough to fill Sherlock’s mind and blank out the noise.
And it’s finally enough.
(For 36,4 seconds, it's nearly enough.)
Chapter 8: respite
Trigger warning for drug use (anxiolytics not used as intended, overuse, abuse).
Haphazardly written on a whim. I have nothing to say to my defense.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Half an hour ago it’d been skin-crawling hollowness, but now the edges are beginning to melt, allowing him to move outside the restraints of his own imbalanced mind.
Anxiolytics. The opposite of stimulants, but Sherlock finds that the one-minded focus it achieves is an acceptable substitute for now.
(When all edges blur, the frames will dissipate and you’re free to colour outside the lines - to create something on freehand.)
With the windows open and the music turned up loud, Sherlock becomes something else. Something he can’t hate, because hate is something too palpable in this abstract, tactile shadow of life, and he’s too busy moving his fingers to the music, conducting something visual.
(Life is what happens afterwards. This is something else.)
(This is respite.)
No one will come in to disturb him now, because there’s no one left here to be disturbed by.
Vibrations move through the floor - a bass that crawls into his skin, seeps into his veins and joins his resin blood and dissipate… dissipate whatever it was he was medicating away.
(It was his deficiency - chronic, imbalance.)
(It was something else too - no; it was the absence of something else - someone else.)
This is different. This is his heartbeat slowing down as everything seems to slow down, seems to intrigue but still doesn’t seem to engage.
It’s destructiveness, but a slower form than he usually indulge himself in.
And he will only have an hour before his brain reestablishes his imbalance, but it’s an hour when breathing is effortless, almost manageable. Almost meaningful.
(Needless to say, whatever Sherlock's doing here, it's not a solution for a mind that's eating its way through his skull. This is not - as are very few of my stories - an illustration of healthy coping mechanisms.)
Chapter 9: being a rare exception
I listened to too many magical podfics about adventures and intensity and began pondering...
...a few hours later, I figured I'd write a five sentence drabble about my thoughts.
(It got out of hand, slightly.)
Unedited and unbetad, per usually in this ficlet collection.
Sherlock had brought with him the realisation that John Watson was only fit to live a life on the edge, and perhaps that saved John’s life, but at the same time, it overturned said life.
John had prepared for a normal life - after the army, then he would settle down, then he would surely enjoy every single moment of not being on guard against enemies, bullets or infectious diseases. He had lived a rather normal life until med school, until emergency medicine and extra shifts on every ward that would take the always eager med student on for a shift. He’d thought it was an infatuation phase, that he’d grow tired of pneumothorax and motorcycle accidents and heart stops, but he never got the time to grow blasé about it - the army happened before he had the time to do so. And then it just kept on being like that; constantly a shift between cortisol and adrenaline in his blood, and perhaps there’s a special kind of tolerance build you can develop even for endogenous substances.
But John had tried normal. Had had normal, until his early twenties. And it was also the only way he could imagine his future.
Sherlock, on the other hand, had never had normal. John didn’t know much about his childhood, but a life with such a divergent brain, brilliant mind and with a brother like Mycroft couldn’t possibly have been normal. Sherlock couldn’t possibly have been normal. Nothing about him was ever mediocre or leveled.
John holds no illusions about Sherlock’s life having been in any way easy. The old track marks he thinks he’s managed to hide from John, the way both Lestrade and Mycroft is hypervigilant and watchful over everything Sherlock does - or doesn’t do - tells him more than any synopsis of Sherlock’s life before him ever could have. Sherlock himself, his odd, uneven personality, seems to confirm this story. His unmasked disdain for everything common or normal speaks volumes; only the one who’s always been excluded from something can hate it so much without knowing anything about how it really feels to live with or in it. Sherlock’s doesn’t know much about normality, and what he does know, he loathes. John doubt that Sherlock expected to live to make it to thirty-five (so much has been hinted to him), but if Sherlock ever did expect something of his future, it can’t have been normality.
Sometimes, John finds himself jealous of Sherlock, who never had to rid himself of the delusion that he ever wanted a normal life. Who wasn’t forced to face the fact that what he’d thought was only a phase - emergency medicine, the military - was something more. It was the only sort of life John wanted to live, nothing more and nothing less.
And John is now living that kind of life once again. The only problem is that he’s not sure that it’s his life, or if he’s just hitchhiking on Sherlock’s life of roof-top chases and arch enemies (and extraordinary talent for the violin and absurd temperament and unmatched childishness and uneven skills and–). John’s life in the army was his own, but will this ever be? If Sherlock grows tired of him, grows tired of John’s lack of anything that is in itself extraordinary, then John will have no claim on the life they used to share. It belongs to Sherlock; even the flat is registered on him. John will be left behind, outside, and be forced to settle once more for attempting a normal life. Or to accept that he can’t live a normal life. That he can’t live.
And when Sherlock looks at him longer, more intently than he used to, John pretends not to notice. When Sherlock’s a bit too close, John steps back to give him space. Because if they… if they try that, and it doesn’t work, it will be like everything else in Sherlock’s life; it will be like an on/off switch, and John doesn’t want to know how it feels to see that switch turn when it would turn on him.
At least this way, Sherlock still has something to chase, something to observe and plot and long for. It shouldn’t get boring any time soon, John hopes, because when it does, John will have no other cards to play than “habit”, “friend”, “useful” and “loyalty”. And neither of those cards are extraordinary. None of them are exclusive, rare or extraordinary, John thinks…
…until he has his arm around Moriarty’s throat, and he tells Sherlock to run, run! And in that second, five different expressions shifts in Sherlock’s face before he regains control of his features and return his focus to the reality of guns, snipers, explosives and madmen holding John hostage.
It isn’t until afterwards, when Moriarty’s left the area and the explosives have been ripped from his body by his best friend and they’ve shared a shaken laugh that John realises what he had missed, what he’d failed to observe.
In themselves, the words “habit”, “friend”, “acceptance” and “loyal” aren’t unusual or extraordinary. But to Sherlock Holmes - the man who’s seldom known anyone who enforces any habit or routines that he can stand, or anyone who’s ever been loyal or accepting, or anyone who’s ever wanted to be his friend - to him, those attributes, especially when all of them are found in a single man, are nothing but extraordinary.
And it’s that realisation that changes everything.
As they sit in the sofa, case notes and books covering the floor and an absurd humour show on the telly, Sherlock looks at him, looks at him the way that used to make John panic, John feels his stomach twist. And Sherlock doesn’t attempt to move any closer, lesson learned from weeks of subtle dismissal, but he doesn’t need to, not tonight.
This time, John moves closer, but he doesn’t stop at that. With the knowledge that John is just as rare in Sherlock’s world as Sherlock is in John’s world, John closes the distance, confident that they together will make this another rare exception.
Chapter 10: papillae
You learned how to kiss from a biology textbook.
He learned how to kiss from reading his older sister’s magazines, the ones she kept hidden in the space between her bookshelf and the wall.
So when you kiss, you think about papillae and mucous tissue. When you kiss him, it’s with medical precision and the notion that it’s all just about urges, the messy, predictableness of biology.
When he kisses you, it’s done with the kind of skill that can only come from years of practise, and somewhere in his subconscious, there are words narrating just how he should do to make your ‘knees go weak’ and make you ‘fall for him’.
It isn’t strange, therefore, that your responses are as essentially different as the sources of knowledge the both of you first found.
To you, it’s about flesh against flesh, and to him, it’s about hope.
And hope to you has always been something dry and clinical, something that you can only distinguish as a faint perception between the pages of your textbooks.
To him, it was always another matter entirely, and it’s something you’re not likely to ever understand.
Still, as your lips touch his lips and his tongue is inside your mouth, there are moments when you can almost taste… something.
It tastes like teenage dreams and battles lost, adrenaline and evening sunlight in your flat.
And it isn’t the least bit logical, but as he pulls away, you wonder if he feels it too.
(Does it taste like old books and a statistical probability, your hope?)
Chapter 11: Mindless
(warmpineneedles on tumblr suggested I’d write “Sherlock grumpily takes up meditation” and I just couldn’t resist, although the result is likely as haphazard as my mind currently is…)
Written while in a cabin in the very north of Sweden, where I - fittingly enough - had a few discussions on mindfulness with pennypaperbrain while trekking in the melting snow of July, sitting by a mountain lake in the sun.
It can also be noted that my first attempts at mindfulness was rather similar to what's described, but that I've since then has worked professionally with mindfulness as one of the tools in dialectal behavioural therapy for three years, and that it's kind of... grown on me. Quite a lot.
It can’t be that hard.
Sherlock closes his eyes, breathing in through his nose, holding the breath for a few seconds before letting it out through his mouth.
It’s only a matter of focus, and Sherlock has the ability to focus to a point where everything around him ceases to exist, so there really shouldn’t be a problem.
Taking another breath, Sherlock turns his attention to the way air fills his lungs, to the feeling of his chest rising and falling with each breath.
(–the chest isn’t really falling, though, is it? It’s more like it resumes its deflated state and a breath let out is not so much a loss as part of a circular–)
He needs to focus. It’s not rocket science. Not with a brain like his. He just needs to focus on the sensation of his own breathing without getting distracted by other thoughts. That’s the whole of it.
Directing one’s focus, though, is a slightly different thing than being so absorbed by a puzzle or a problem that you notice nothing else, or so it would seem.
He’s read up on this. He, Sherlock Holmes, has been reading up on meditation. That in itself is remarkable. What’s even more remarkable is that what should only be a matter of determined focus turns out to be… slightly challenging.
Breathing is boring, or so he’s often said, and this exercise seems to be deliberately designed to prove that simple fact. It’s dull, useless. Breathing is an autonomic function, and autonomic functions are autonomic for a reason. That reason being that you shouldn’t have to think about doing them.
To think that focusing on breathing should have any kind of effect on the state of his mental health is just beyond ridiculous and if he hadn’t read so many studies suggesting that it might facilitate–
With a slight shake of his head, Sherlock tries to clear his head. He’s not supposed to be thinking about thinking right now. He’s not supposed to be thinking, even.
Does his chest always feel this strained when he’s breathing, or is he simply taking very artificial breaths now that he’s paying attention to the fact that his diaphragm is pushing the air in and–
Sherlock tenses, resists the urge to shake his head once again to rid it of every thought and every loose end that seems to be causing a tangle inside his usually well-disciplined mind.
It’s well-disciplined, alright, and it’s been suggested that that’s the reason that he needs to do this. That his iron-hold on his mind is what’s causing the cognitive disturbances that he can no longer deny being affected by.
(‘Stress’ is a word he will never willingly affiliate with himself, no, his mind does not–)
Since focusing on the way his chest moves clearly isn’t working, Sherlock shifts to directing his attention to the way the air flows in and out of first his nose, then his mouth.
And there lies the problem. Not thinking is not something that comes natural to someone who prides himself with being a cerebral creature that puts mind over matter, and so the whole thing is absurd, and if–
It can’t be that hard.
What’s the point of being meditative of something so mindless as airflow? It’s called mindfulness, but it seems contradictory, because the whole point seems to be mindless, at least this particular exercise does, and Sherlock does not do mindless things, no, he does things that–
Letting out the last of the air, or at least as much as he can possible force out of his lungs, Sherlock refuses to take another pointless, mind-numbingly boring breath.
It can’t be that hard, not breathing.
As the seconds go by and Sherlock wills himself not to inhale, not to give in to the urge of take a sip of air, it slowly starts to feel like there’s more air to let out, like it’s trying to force its way out of his closed mouth, but when he opens it to breath it out, there’s nothing there.
It burns. There’s a pressure right over his ribcage. It feels like choking, but there’s nothing to choke on.
This, Sherlock finds, is finally getting interesting.
The sensations of forcing himself not to do something autonomic is far more intriguing than paying attention to what it feels like when he’s doing it.
It’s only when the pressure turns to pain and things are starting to get a bit blurry around the edges that Sherlock relaxes his muscles, only then realising how much strain it takes not to breathe.
The pain slowly dissipates, and his mind clears a bit.
This, Sherlock decides as he gets up from his chair, kicking the book about mindfulness meditation in under the sofa where John will be less likely to find it, is not something that he wants to be doing again.
Observing a perfectly working system is decidedly pointless.
Incidentally, it seems like his own mind is no longer such a perfectly working system.
That he has in fact observed. Finding a solution, however, seems like far more of a challenge than he had anticipated.
At least now he can rule out one of the solutions his research had suggested.
Mindless things can never cure your mind, after all. That goes without saying, and so the so-called minfulness is discarded as a possible remedy.
Walking towards the kitchen, Sherlock notices how the air is once again effortlessly filling his lungs before its once again exhaled.
That wasn't so hard now, is it?