Sherlock figured that the majority would have to be cellulose, as was customary with all kinds of paper. Ten point two percent titanium dioxide.
Five or maybe…six per cent-undiluted titanium with two oxygen molecules in one chain reaction, maybe calcium tricarbonate too, if his father had been vigilant whilst choosing his hardcover books in the library, to slow the decomposition of the paper.
Sherlock frowned, he rarely guessed percentage and data, but as he had yet to gather information on his father’s study, he had to make do at the moment. His father had been very particular about the things Sherlock wasn’t allowed to touch and his handwritten leather-bound copies of ‘The Prince’ were amongst the top three on his list, after his Marlboro cigarettes and his safe.
The young boy let the annoyance drift to the back of his brain, a mere static noise at the back of his mind as he continued to examine the dust moult with interest once again. The irritating housekeeper must have forgotten to dust his father’s office, probably two days in a row-What for?
Sherlock once again threw the wild speculation to the back of his mind, and let it figure out the rest. He wanted to collect the dust in flypaper and take it back to his room for examination, oh how badly he wanted to do that! However, he was strictly told that leaving wasn’t an option while he waited for his parents to return at the beginning of his session with the new shrink.
Sherlock’s face cracked into a smile in spite of himself. ‘Shrink’ is what Mycroft had taken to calling the strangers often recrudescing into their house, though the older boy was barely there to see them himself, Sherlock could tell that he was just as infuriated by them as Sherlock was over the phone.
The speck of dust rose to his eye level, causing the eight-year-old to sag back against the colossal leather armchair he was told to sit on. Sherlock was almost sure that at least thirty percent of that dust was dead human skin cells.
One would call him reckless for just assuming-namely Mycroft- but Sherlock knew just how much time his father spent in this office, so at least thirty percent of that dust mole had to be his father’s dead skin cells.
That left only eight percent, that Sherlock had no choice, but to chalk up to textile fibres, such as the chair he was occupying. The thought frustrated him, and almost unconsciously, he decided that he would have to start taking samples after all. Maybe when another shrink came for a visit.
He met them in this office almost every time, with the exception of the first, who was his school consular.
His titled head remained unmoving. His body the image of tranquillity and his eyes fixated on the speckled dust, but he had heard them, and his widening pupils would indicate so if the idiot actually bothered to observe Sherlock instead of gawking at him.
“Sherlock I know you can hear us,” his mother was there too, not within eyesight like the shrink lady, probably behind him, Sherlock knew the smell of her perfume like he knew every tiny little bone in his body (with the exception of Stapes) because he always-irritatingly- forgot the name.
“Sherlock, can you look at us please?”
Sherlock ignored her. Stupid woman. She was the daftest Sherlock had met so far, smelling too sweetly, that almost bordered repugnancy, too flat-faced and harbouring a stupid accent, which she was faking. She was European, Eastern Europe to be exact, it wasn’t too obvious at first glance, but one would have to be a moron not to see it in the way she spoke. Noticeable stress whilst pronouncing ‘R’ and slightly longer vowels, and clipped short sentences with academic accuracy. He would have thought German if it weren’t for her necklace.
Austrian Crystal necklace, obviously, Sherlock had seen a similar design on Mommy’s tedious tea party partner, Mrs. Abbott who had shamelessly dropped by to brag about the jewellery for twenty exhausting minutes. Of course, one of them could be a fake, but the colouring and the cut were too distinctive for it to be a replica.
This woman’s cleavage was only inches away from his face, and Mrs. Abbott was unlikely to buy fake ornaments, Sherlock himself couldn’t see the appeal in dotting oneself with rocks. Although he guessed, it had something to do with attraction and self-perception and to some lesser extent (depending on the test subject) a subtle move to display wealth and opulence.
This woman did not look like she had a lot of money, or she wouldn’t be here wasting her time testing him, or wearing those second hand (but admittedly neat) shoes. Probably a gift then, too valuable for it to be from a partner, so Sherlock supposed that it could have been her mother’s.
Her mother would have to be dead if she was wearing this, or else the woman wouldn’t have kept the necklace. She would have sold it. Sherlock didn’t see why she couldn’t sell it now, it wasn’t like her mother or whomever, would see her wearing the stupid rock.
“Sherlock you will look at me now.” His mother’s voice rang and the shrink backed away to look over his shoulder, presumably at her.
“This is quite normal Mrs. Holmes. He must be daydreaming,” The shrink babbled. “It is quite common in children…like him specifically. I have seen countless cases such as this one.”
What a load of nonsense, Sherlock would have wrinkled his nose in disgust if he weren’t dead set on being like a statue. He and his mother both knew that Sherlock was having the shrink on, but he doubted that she would confront him now, in the middle of his act.
He had every right to be mad; his mother’s standards were seriously beginning to drop after the guy with freckles came by. He was the smartest out of the lot, nothing compared to Sherlock’s brilliancy of course. He was also the shrink that rage quit from the library, red in the face and contemplating his life choices.
Sherlock had received a very stern scolding after his departure, something about ‘Trying not to give people reasons to fall into an existential crisis’ was among the subjects that were discussed, but he couldn’t be sure. He was already in the process of deleting that day altogether.
Mycroft had taught him that method, anything he didn’t want or need to keep, he could just throw away now.
Oh, how much he had missed the older boy. He stored a mental note in his box to keep on his subliminal messaging through their phone calls to draw Mycroft back to the house for the holidays. He just needed to keep on mentioning Mrs. Delaware’s delicious new cake deliveries every two days and his brother would come running like there was no tomorrow.
“Asperger’s syndrome, I agree with my colleague’s earlier assessment of his behaviour and characteristics. He’s definitely on the spectrum.”
This was getting tedious now, he thought, his lips finally curling into a sneer, with a ferocity that was uncommon for someone his age, Sherlock heaved a dramatic sigh and dropped his eyes from the specks of dust that were floating in the still air. Watching dust was boring now.
“It’s not surprising,” he suddenly said in the midst of their conversation and hopped off the chair. The Austrian woman balked at the sudden movement, naturally flinching back as the small boy got into her personal space as she had done to him moments before.
It made him look more intimidating, he had found, also, it made other people very uncomfortable when he did that. The only one immune to this technique was his father.
“You’re an idiot like him,” he drawled.
Sherlock ignored Mommy. “That’s why you’re having sex with him too. People with similar intellectual capabilities are more likely to form a relationship,” The shrink’s eyes widened and her mouth fell open, opening and closing like a blubbering idiot. The eight-year-old mentally groaned. This day would have to be deleted too.
“Honey-” she finally stammered but the eight-year-old was way ahead of her. He turned, circled the chair and passed right by his mother who didn’t look nearly as flabbergasted as the psychiatrist did, but annoyed all the same.
She wouldn’t scold him this time, Sherlock guessed that she would steal something of his again, most likely his chemistry set. If he got back to his room quickly enough, he would have time to hide them before his mother got on with her funny idea of punishment.
The shrink stared back and forth at him and his mother as if she couldn’t believe her ears. Oh how narrow-minded, Sherlock cruelly thought, and she was the psychiatrist. She looked alarmed, he wondered why. Maybe because he had specifically said the word ‘sex’? Was that it? Adults were sometimes unusually alarmed at such things coming from a young boy such as himself.
Why did she care if he knew she was having sex? She was getting paid to put a name on him, and Sherlock was barely calling her anything vulgar by revealing her intercourse patterns. If she didn’t want him to know that she was seeing the last shrink, then she shouldn’t have worn his wristwatch.
“Dear, who told you about-I’m not-Mike and I-.”
Sherlock couldn’t take it anymore, he groaned.
“Boring people, doing boring things. How tedious.” This last thing, he said to his mother before turning and leaving the two women in his father’s office, his dress shoes clicking loudly against the floorboards.
He would have much more fun inspecting the insects in their garden. He had begun cataloguing them two days ago, and he was already making progress. Although he knew that he wasn’t even nearly half done with them, the ones he had found so far could be found in every garden, cabbage white butterflies and ladybugs, green crickets…the norm. He needed to find something peculiar.
Because of course, there was one. There was always something peculiar in every bunch. Something that was unlike others in everything, the black sheep in a white herd. As an example, Sherlock himself was the peculiar thing in their family, he and Uncle Morris were at a very close tie a few months back, but the man was diagnosed. Unlike Sherlock.
Which made Sherlock the freak out of the two.
Racing to his room, Sherlock had already started unbuttoning his suffocating white dress shirt in order to get into his ‘work clothes’. He couldn’t have his nice shoes and clothes ruined by his mother’s garden after all.
That was the first time he was stung by a European hornet.
The first time Sherlock was beaten, he was fourteen.
It was a miracle really, how he had managed to hold out and stretch his luck as long as he had. With a tongue like his, and intelligence that stumped every living soul in his vicinity, it was a wonder that he was still enrolled in the school at all.
He knew how to deal with the bullies since early childhood. He mostly opted to wait them out in the library or the chemistry lab. If anything, Sherlock rather spent his whole school day in either of those places, but the teachers were idiots, and as a result, Sherlock’s curly menace of a hair was marred with disgusting saliva covered spitballs that originated from the other rows behind him.
He had tried sitting in the last row a few times in several of his classes, but instead of drool-covered paper balls, he had gotten nearly every student throwing something at him when the incompetent teacher wasn’t paying attention.
He saw no point in alerting them anyways, and he found it rather pleasant to retreat into the room he had specifically created in his mind to escape the verbal abuse and taunting going on in every class and social interaction. Sometimes, he was so deep in his head, that he didn’t feel the spitballs or the pens hitting him in the face, or the teacher nearly screaming in his face to stop bloody daydreaming.
Sherlock found it highly unpleasant to be wrenched away from his room by force, as it usually left him dismantled and harbouring a migraine, and so, he proceeded to disassemble his math teacher’s failing marriage life in front of the entire class, once the man lost his temper with Sherlock again.
Public school was a joy.
The teacher threw him out of his class without batting an eyelash and vowed to see him out of this school himself even if it was the last thing he did. He shoved Sherlock between the two rows of benches, not flinching or interrupting as several students stuck their legs out for the boy to trip.
Sherlock hated every single one of them. He wished they would just vaporize and disappear into thin air. Every time he had these lines of thoughts, he would scold himself at his impracticality and lack of imagination. People didn’t just get vaporized out of nowhere.
The possibility of them getting run over by a bus, or dying by the hands of some other person, or simply falling and cracking their head open was infinitely higher.
He stumbled and fell numerous times, as the cruel math teacher shoved and prodded him through a seemingly endless row of students that all took pleasure in seeing him fall, some of them even subtly kicking him in the thighs as he buckled down.
Finally, he was out of their reach, the math teacher gave one last shove and directed him to go straight to the principal’s office until the bell rang.
“And then I will deal with you personally, Holmes.”
Sherlock headed for the library instead, idly untightening his tie and rubbing at his neck. His thigh was a little stiff, and he knew for sure that there would be a bruise colouring his skin in a few short minutes if he checked. It would be nice, he thought, timing the discolouration on this one.
He’d done it before countless times, the first time he purposefully stuck his arm between a door to administer the bruises himself, it hurt a little, but Sherlock ignored the pain, opened his journal, and stared at his red arm, waiting eagerly for the bruise to bloom.
A bruise on his thigh. He wondered if injecting different conditions would change the healing process. As he was deducing the tiles and measuring the likely size of the bruise on his body, a rough hand seized him by the shoulder.
“Where you think you’re going, fuckhead?” the voice rattled his body and threw him to the ground, the ugly face sneered above him.
Sherlock didn’t even know this one’s name. Well, he might have, but they all looked the same to him, and he didn’t want to waste valuable time or space in his mind to store such things. He glared up at the creature.
“Don’t look at me like that, freak!” the older boy yelled, causing the fourteen-year-old to heave a dramatic sigh and roll his eyes. Not only, had they all looked the same, Sherlock venomously thought. They all spoke the same way.
“Don’t you think I forgot what you did last Wednesday, you fuck,”
Public school accent, when applied in these situations, using these particular words, was also a joy.
The bully narrowed his eyes as Sherlock sighed, and delivered a swift kick to Sherlock’s side, one that Sherlock saw coming, but didn’t dodge. He had no time to act, and dodging would have provoked the other boy to tackle him instead.
Sherlock must have deleted last Wednesday because he had no idea what this clown was talking about.
He was very burly, and easily twice his size. As much as Sherlock hated dedicating brain cells in these situations, he knew he had no choice if he wanted to avoid a confrontation.
He ended up in one anyway.
“Don’t you have nothing to say, freak?” followed by another kick.
“Did your mother finally tell your father about the affair?” was probably the wrong thing to say as he finally got back on his feet. Later on, he admonished himself on his choice of words. He said the wrong thing to gain an advantage, even though time and time again, he had been proven that declaring other people’s private affairs (in this case, literally) always landed him in trouble. He didn’t even have time to blink before the other boy was on him, beating the living daylight out of Sherlock, his fists and kicks reaching every possible surface available.
Sherlock took it in stride, curling into a tiny ball and hooking his arms around his head in protection. He didn’t resist, and he didn’t fight back, he simply ‘went away’ back into his room, picked up a book and curled in his armchair, resumed reading.
When he was called out of his room, forcibly, again, the first thing Sherlock saw was his mother’s concerned face swimming in front of his eyes, and the sound of his brother Mycroft coldly chewing out both the math teacher and the principal.
The kid who beat him up was expelled. Sherlock was suspended and later on patched up by the family’s personal doctor in his father’s office. Somehow, he always ended up in his father’s office at the worst possible times.
“Sherlock, I hope that I’m making this very clear, for the last time, there will not be a repeat of this incident again. This is the school your brother went to, so did your father and his father before him, and they all turned out…well.”
Not like you.
Sherlock finished his mother’s terse sentence in his mind. He had a migraine now, and his body ached badly. He had a sprained ankle, and he just yearned to shut all the people out and go back to his room to finish Langstroth’s ‘on the hive & honey bee’.
Alas, even Mycroft had been called in for this. They were all acting as if this was all his doing. His fault that the moron who attacked him had a terrible home life and took his frustration out on Sherlock. His fault that his math teacher couldn’t keep it in his pants, or look the other way when other students tormented Sherlock.
Sherlock wanted to explain, it was so easy, to just open his mouth and let the words flow at lightning speed, to tell them all about the bullying, and the pranks and the teacher’s turning a blind eye to everything because he outsmarted them in class.
He had no idea what the boy or the teacher had told about him whilst in that blasted office. He realized that maybe his absence might have worked against him. Obviously, both had twisted the truth into their own petty version and made it seem like he was the villain here.
His mouth opened but upon seeing his father’s silent stare Sherlock fell short. He looked at Mycroft and then at his mother and saw the same thing; disappointment, contempt, exasperation.
They were tired of dealing with a freak and all the troubles that came with it. His father, in particular, looked the most disappointed, smoking his Marlboro and ignoring the old doctor as he wrapped Sherlock’s ankle, his face stoic as if he was alone in the room.
Sagging back against the chair, Sherlock let his head fall back against the cushion, reprimanding himself for that tiny bulge in his throat and the sting behind his eyes. Don’t be ridiculous, he told himself firmly. You’re not a child. You’re not like THEM. Crying is for them, normal people.
You have better things to do.
With that, Sherlock released a long-held breath, and then methodically, he started cataloguing his bruises from head to toe, starting with the eggplant under his left eye and the blossoming one running along his jaw.
‘Let them think whatever they want.’ He told himself, for the first of the many times in the following years.
Sherlock was fifteen when Mycroft gifted him his first violin, for Christmas, the man himself wasn’t there; he was off to Uni, driving someone else up the wall and gorging himself on cake, but he sent Sherlock a huge box, with shiny gold wrapping and frilly silver strings. He knew how much the extravagance and the flash colours would torture Sherlock.
Sherlock left the gift sitting by his desk for two days, trying to deduce the present, and failing, put off by the hideous wrapping, and the vulgar shape of the box itself. His educated guess was a new microscope, but he didn’t let himself hope too much as he finally gave in, and tore into the gift after three days of resistance.
It was a violin case, shiny and black with a golden latch. And a note;
'It’s not the real deal, brother mine. I’m not giving you a Stradivarius the first time you’ll hold the instrument in your hands, as you will not appreciate the value. Take good care of this one, and if you play it adequately by summer break, I’ll see about getting you a real one.
Sherlock tossed the note away and opened the box. His breath momentarily hitching at the oak coloured instrument that stared back at him, with a honey glazed surface, and tight fixed strings. The woodwork was beautiful, and Sherlock immediately took a liking to it. He picked up the bow (heavier than he thought) and caressed a hand along the new violin.
There was a half-filled music notebook at the bottom of the box as well, Sherlock found. He scoffed. Mycroft just expected him to learn a new instrument, just by supplying the violin itself and a couple of notes? Didn’t he know how awful Sherlock was at playing the piano as a child?
Back then, he had his own tutor, the family tutor, and his own mother as a teacher, and still, he hadn’t achieved any progress. The piano was majestic, it required dedication, time and patience, all of which Sherlock lacked.
He couldn’t fathom how this was going to be different regarding a violin.
The first stroke of the bow against the strings nearly made him drop the wretched thing, Sherlock knew that it wouldn’t sound masterful the first few times, but the intensity that indicated how bad he was at this was appalling. Mycroft must have gotten it for the same exact reason, to taunt Sherlock.
Disdainfully, Sherlock rid himself of the beautiful instrument and thrust the violin case under his bed, his hands nearly shaking with fury before he slumped down in his chair and feasted his eye with the small slide under the microscope.
He wanted to hate Mycroft for this, for tormenting Sherlock needlessly and humiliating him at every turn, but he stopped himself every time because, in a sick way, Mycroft wanted Sherlock to muster enough emotion to hate him. He knew how dangerous it was to duel with emotions in the mix of everyday life, an unnecessary glitch in the human consciousness that, frankly, disgusted Sherlock.
“All lives end, all hearts are broken, caring is not an advantage.” His brother had taken to saying that as of late, in his phone calls, or after one of Sherlock’s outbursts every now and then. Sherlock had responded to this sentence with a heated “Screw you,” every time, causing his brother to sigh and drop his gaze as if disappointed.
Sherlock didn’t care, he knew the art of disappointing people like he could name and differentiate all 243 types of tobacco ash, and unlike the tobacco ash, he rarely cared about letting people down. Mostly. But no one needed to know about that.
It’s only been less than a year that he’s been free of Shrink after Shrink dropping off for a visit to mess around Sherlock’s head. He figured pretending to match up with one of their diagnostics (his favourite was a high-functioning sociopath) was much easier than being himself. Even around family.
Sherlock did not revisit the violin for another two weeks, the same night he stole his first Marlboro from his father’s office.
At sixteen, they shipped him off to Uni.
This decision raised some eyebrows in his mother’s tea party circles, but none said a thing in fears of causing more anguish to the distraught mother, who despite being a mathematical oriented genius herself, and raising one child worthy of the same title, couldn’t handle raising the other, not only because of Sherlock’s far-reaching intelligence but because the boy’s mere ‘presence’ was too much to handle.
Sherlock thought that to her, he seemed like a strange creature she couldn’t comprehend. She wasn’t scared of him like other people were, and she didn’t despise him for knowing things that seemed impossible to other people, but she couldn’t quite understand him. To her, Sherlock was a math problem she could never solve with long-winded, wall-covering formulas, although she tried.
She had tried labelling him with something before, some illness found under the sun to stick it to Sherlock like a nametag with no luck.
When she found that she couldn’t, and Sherlock was too old to be bullied and tested anymore, she just decided that she should give Sherlock’s mind all the stimulation that it needed by sending him off to Uni and hoping that would somehow cure him of his freakishness.
His father never agreed or disagreed with her decision, for the same reason he never scolded their housemaid for not dusting his office. He didn’t care. He did care about Sherlock to some extent, but to him, having Mycroft handle the family’ name and fortune was more than enough, and so, he didn’t need to burn and despair at how worse off his other son turned out to be.
They kicked Sherlock out of the house and off to Uni in hopes of fixing him, having no idea that it was the university itself that would ruin Sherlock once and for all.
Cocaine, Sherlock found, was the answer to every problem under the sun, be it political, be it existential, or in Sherlock’s case, familial. Or rather anything that had to do with humans in the first place, drove him to bask in the safety of the drug with no regrets, which, considering was always.
Cocaine was the juice of life. The elixir that made the agonizing act of living, somewhat simpler for Sherlock.
He adored it, even more than his violin perhaps, if not more then, definitely not less.
He had dabbled in other drugs for a short while, the chemist side of him was unable to pass on the temptation, but out of all the ones he had tried, and ones he had yet to acquire, cocaine was his favourite.
It numbed his brain in a way that nothing else could. It slowed things down, making it so that for once Sherlock’s brain wasn’t overloaded with sensory information constantly. It didn’t thrust details at the moment's notice with barely enough time for processing.
Not that Sherlock minded the flood of information, he relished and basked in knowledge, but his transport left much to be desired and wasn’t supple enough to handle the truths his brain was trying to show him.
Cocaine fixed that little issue, and in addition, it left Sherlock feeling absolutely euphoric, something he would barely ever feel on his own, especially with morons such as his Professors and other sex-driven fellows who were too busy shagging each other to try and fail to educate themselves.
His supplier had been very hesitant at first, given his questionable age, and remarkable intellect, in fact, the block had barely believed he was truly asking for a sample and was willing to pay for it as well. Sherlock deduced the broke first-year history student and fished out an extra wad of cash before the guy’s concerns smoothed over.
His embarrassing indulgence in said drug resulted in a few close calls, but ultimately nothing that Sherlock himself couldn’t handle. After a tedious day of boring classes and other students giving him a wide berth while still managing to be condescending, Sherlock found himself craving the rush of cocaine that came at the end of it and refused to feel any sort of remorse regarding his feelings.
Overdosing was tedious.
It truly was.
Sherlock remembered bits and pieces, every time that he woke, something was new, something had changed and he had to deduce it all over again through the haze.
only three things remained in his first hospital stay after overdosing for the first time.
The first, was Mycroft, glaring at him with narrowed eyes and speaking in hushed tones with the doctors, umbrella in hand, face pinched in absolute rage. He knew it wasn’t an accident.
The second, was the awfulness in Sherlock’s bones, stitched into his being, into every fibre, the knowledge of his failure. The knowledge that no matter how many times he deleted the event and went to sleep, he would wake up again and deduce it all from the start.
The third, and perhaps the most bewildering was that Sherlock’s parents never visited, not even once.
Just him, Mycroft in a red plastic chair near his bed, and a deal.