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Sherlock fic: 20 Degrees of Addiction

January 7th, 2016 (09:34 pm)
Tags: ,

feeling: grumpy

Title: 20 Degrees of Addiction

Disclaimer: I do not own Sherlock.

A/N: Set roughly after the 2015 holiday special, but it’s pretty vague. Unbeta’ed. Another birthday ficlet for sendintheklowns. I don’t know why I structured this one the way I did, but hopefully it still makes sense!

Warnings: Drug use.

Summary: There was very, very little risk to Sherlock, by his own calculations.



It wasn’t abuse, not by the purest clinical definition. Abuse was about too much, about a loss of control. For Sherlock, the drugs had always been the complete opposite. Not surrender, but triumph. Not weakness, but strength. He controlled the dosage; he controlled the context.

There was very, very little risk to him, by his own calculations.

He slipped the note into his pocket with the exact list and exact dose, and trusted that would be enough.


(He just didn’t take the risk to anyone else into account. Of course, most of the time, there wasn’t anyone else. Mycroft hardly counted, and Sherlock, he was a solitary figure.

Until John Watson.)


It was a familiar rush, thrumming through his veins. He could feel it, coursing through his system as his heartbeat quicken and his pupils dilated. Inhaling, his senses came alive and he flexed his fingers, blinking up at the haloed lights before he let them slide close.

This was his time.

He exhaled.

And the lights shattered as the dream began.


It was a mystery, of course.

The latest case, something important. But Sherlock deduced the truth in two minutes flat. The butler in the library with the shoehorn.

The shoehorn?

Moriarity shook his head.

“It’s not enough,” he hissed.

“The mystery was too easy,” Sherlock replied.

Moriarity shook his head. “The drugs can’t give it to you anymore,” he said. “Not like you want it.”

Sherlock furrowed his brow.

Moriarity clapped his hands, face breaking into a grin.

And the walls set themselves on fire.


Fire was appropriate, perhaps. It was thorough, anyway. Breaking matter down until there was nothing but ash. Reducing books, houses, skyscrapers, people -- all of it in its wake.

Moriarty cackled as he was consumed, and the walls fell to nothing around him, leaving Sherlock standing alone in the middle of the room.

Through the haze, he saw a figure.

He saw John.

He was too far away, though, and he couldn’t hear what he was saying. But John waved his arms, face contorted in a scream.

“What?” Sherlock asked. “I can’t hear you.”

John screamed louder as the smoke thickened.



He followed, quickly at first, but the doctor slipped through the ashes. Slower, then, as the smoke grew acrid, burning in his nostrils. Sherlock coughed into his sleeve, half gagging as he moved.

Ahead of him, he caught a flash of movement.



Faster, faster, slower, slower. Up, up, up, and a long way down. He tripped, fumbling forward as he hit the ground. Gasping, he looked up and opened his eyes.


“Sherlock!” John yelled, face smudged with soot. “Oh, thank God, I thought--”

Sherlock frowned. “But hasn’t the building already burned down?” he asked.

John made a face, shaking his head. “Smoke detectors aren’t working,” he said, reaching down to haul Sherlock up with a ragged inhalation. “Already pulled Mrs. Hudson out, but she wasn’t sure if you were home. With the amount of smoke, I couldn’t wait for the firemen to arrive--”

On his feet, Sherlock wavered as John braced him. “Wait,” he said with sudden clarity. “This is--”

“Real,” John said, hauling him toward the door. “Fire in the basement, between the walls. I already found the note in your pocket, and we’ll talk about that later.”

Sherlock shook his head, trying to keep his legs from buckling. “There’s a real fire.”

“Yes,” John bark, lifting his arm as the smoke wafting toward them in billowing waves. “There are some things you just can’t escape.”

Sherlock looked at him, confused for a moment.

Words of wisdom? From John Watson?

Maybe this was a dream?

No, John was right.

This was reality.

Maybe it didn’t matter.


Sherlock opened his mouth to reply as they came to the top of the stairs.

But then he missed his steps.

And the whole thing came tumbling down.


Sherlock knew what it was to fall.

But hitting bottom?

He’d never been good at that.



He coughed awake, almost choking on the smoke. At the base of the stairs, the floor had given way, dropping them clear to the basement. The air was hot here, the smoke black and thick. The walls danced with orange, and all Sherlock could do was look up.

He’d never been afraid to jump, not on his own terms.

But then he looked at John’s still, crumpled form next to him in the haze.

And he understood for once just how far he’d fallen.


John was alive, but he was unconscious. The gash by his hairline was self explanatory, but Sherlock could feel his lungs expanding and contracting beneath his touch.

That was the good news, of course.

The bad news was self evident.

Sherlock had come down and this time, he didn’t have a way back up.

This time, he hadn’t just gone down of his own free will.

This time, he’d taken John with him.


There had to be a way out.

On his feet, Sherlock employed all his deductive reasoning. He calculated the amount of time they had, based on the amount of smoke and the heat of the fire. He estimated the source, and considered all viable means of escape.

In conclusion: the stairs were inaccessible. The ceiling was too high.

And they had less than five minutes before the smoke overtook them.

And less than ten before they burned alive.


There had to be a way out.

Sherlock calculated.

He recalculated.

The answer was the same.

A mystery with no solution.

Or a mystery with only one solution.

Just not the one he wanted.


He tried, to be fair.

He carried John as far as he could. He made it as long as he could before the heat was just too much and the air clogged his lungs. He jumped; he threw; he screamed.

Silence had never carried such a roar.


He pulled John closer, in the end, covering them both as best he could to filter out the worst of the smoke. Huddled down, Sherlock felt small.

He felt stupid.

It wasn’t abuse of drugs that was his problem. It was abuse of those around him. It was the things he took for granted, like Mycroft’s impeccable timing and John’s dogged determination. It was arrogance of the most unreasonable sort, to think that he could control the outcome.

Because yes, Sherlock could control the drugs.

And, most of the time, he could control himself.

Both of those, as far as he was concerned, were acceptable risks.

But he couldn’t control the world as it spun without him. He couldn’t control the actions of those around him, and the circumstances that sometimes worked against him.

He should have smelled the smoke.

He should have kept his footing.

He never should have fallen.

And he sure as hell never should have taken John with him.

In his grasp, John’s breathing faltered. Sherlock’s vision swam.

This time, Sherlock knew, beyond all doubt, that this last fall would kill him.


“Told you,” Moriarty said in a singsong voice. He smirked at Sherlock. “Told you the drugs wouldn’t be enough anymore.”

Sherlock stared at him, straining for air. He shifted John’s weight in his arms, pulling him closer.

Moriarty cocked his head with a false sympathy. “You keep looking for higher cliffs to jump off, but this is it,” he said. “This is it.”

Sherlock’s head spun, his arms and legs starting to go numb.

“Drugs can’t give you the edge anymore, because the stakes aren’t high enough,” he said, stepping forward. “This is the high you want, the high you need. The stakes -- well, they couldn’t be higher now, could they?”

He looked down at John, face like ash as Sherlock started to fade.

“The fall’s only worth it when you can’t predict the impact,” Moriarty told him. He reached down, tipping Sherlock’s chin up toward him with a sinister smile. “When it might cost you everything.”


“Hey, I got something!”

Sherlock blinked his eyes, cracked just to slits.

“They’re alive! I need extraction!”

Sherlock’s fingers curled, wondering if he still had the list of drugs.

He felt John’s skin, warm next to him instead.

Squeezing his fingers tight, Sherlock gritted his teeth.

And he didn’t let go.


The oxygen burned cold in his lungs, and Sherlock blinked up at the light.

“Sir, we’re taking care of you. Sir.”

He blinked again, trying to speak and failing.

“Sir, we found the list, sir. Did you take something?”

He turned his head, looking, searching.

“Sir? Sir?”

It wasn’t there, though.

After all this, Sherlock still hadn’t found the thing he wanted.

Eyes closing, he half wondered if that was because he’d had it all along.


He woke up with an IV.

And a very tired looking brother.

“Really, Sherlock,” Mycroft said warily. “Again?”

Sherlock drew his brows together with an experimental breath. It hurt.

“Smoke inhalation,” Mycroft informed him. “A rather serious case. They’ve had to delay treatment while the rest of the drugs are flushed from your system.”

He cleared his throat with effort, doing his best not to wince.

“Your flat is remarkably intact,” Mycroft continued, unprompted. “Old wiring or some such nonsense. You’re supposed to change the batteries in your smoke detector, by the way. And it helps if you don’t take drugs.”

This time, Sherlock did manage to draw a breath, promptly ignoring everything Mycroft had just said. “And John?”

Mycroft was almost bemused. “If he were your primary concern, then you shouldn’t have taken drugs in the first place,” he lectured. “He’s just as determined to save your life as I am, only nowhere nearly as well equipped. He will die for you, if you let him.”

With effort, Sherlock wet his lips and shook his head. “And John?”

Mycroft sighed, clearly disappointed that his careful speech had so little impact. “Recovering,” he said. “Smoke inhalation and concussion, but he’s expected to make a full recovery. This time.”

Mycroft tilted his head toward Sherlock, as if to emphasis his point.

“Spare me your lectures and your veiled threats,” Sherlock muttered. “I understand the risk now.”

“Of taking drugs?”

“Of not being fully aware when there are, for the first time in my life, other people who count on me,” Sherlock said, voice just somewhat halting.

Mycroft drew his lips together, annoyed. But Mycroft was a pragmatist. “Does that mean you’ll stop?”

“I can control my usage, but I can’t control the world,” he said. “And I can’t control John Watson. Until such things change, yes. I quit.”

A smile tugged at Mycroft’s lips. “Then maybe this near death experience hasn’t been all for naught.”

“Gloat later,” Sherlock said, struggling to sit up. “Take me to John. Now.”


“I made a mistake,” Sherlock announced.

On his own hospital bed, John looked nearly as bad as Sherlock felt. Pale and battered with a dramatic-looking bandage across his forehead. “By taking the drugs?” John surmised.

“Not exactly.”

A frown creased John’s brow. “Not exactly?”

“I still contend, despite the insistence from both you and Mycroft, that the controlled dosages are acceptable risks for me.”

John balked. “But you would have died from smoke inhalation.”

“In a very unlikely turn of events,” Sherlock said. “Planning for obscure possibilities in a waste of time.”

John looked somewhat ill. “And here I thought maybe you’d have learned your lesson.”

“I have,” Sherlock supplied readily.

John looked uncertain.

“Just not the lesson you seem to want me to get,” Sherlock continued.

“I’m not sure I even want to know,” John confessed.

“The drugs are an acceptable risk to me,” Sherlock clarified. “But it has become increasingly and painfully clear to me that I do not exist in isolation. If it were merely for a sense of loss, I might not be so easily persuaded.”

“Easily?” John interjected.

Sherlock ignored him. “But it is not a question of mere affection, or even the vulnerability of not having me there to answer all the questions.”

“You don’t answer all the questions--”

Sherlock shook his head. “It is a matter of leaving myself vulnerable and thereby putting you at risk,” he said. “Because in my calculation, I could easily account for some kind of unlikely and unfortunate accident, but I failed to consider that you would not rest to save me from such an accident. And such an oversight put you in unnecessary peril, which I find ultimately unacceptable.”

John stared at him.

Sherlock straightened his hospital gown.

Finally, John snorted. “Okay, then.”

Sherlock lifted his brows expectantly. “Okay?”

John sighed, shaking his head. “I know something of taking calculated risks and looking for that next high,” he said. “Fortunately, that’s why I’m friends with you.”

“I’m not sure how that makes anything better--”

“We fall together, Sherlock,” John said. “That’s what friendship is. That’s what the real high is about. We fall together.”

Tilted his head, Sherlock was quizzical. “And that’s enough?”

John chuckled, settling back in his bed a little bit. “With a friendship like ours,” he mused. “I’d say that’s more than enough.”


Posted by: sendintheclowns (sendintheklowns)
Posted at: January 8th, 2016 10:13 pm (UTC)

For some reason I forget how much I love these two characters and then I read fic like this and fall in love again.

I thought I was having a theme of gunshot wounds for the smorgasbord you prepared for me but you threw me a (delightful) curveball with this one.

Love it!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 10th, 2016 07:50 pm (UTC)
happy john

I'm always pretty sure that I fail to capture Sherlock completely, but it sure is fun to try. It is one of my favorite things to make Sherlock realize how much he hopelessly cares about John because Sherlock is so terrible at admitting it. He is the perfect character for this kind of trope :)

And now I'm a bit regretful I didn't go on a whump theme! Ah, well, there's always next year :) Or we could celebrate your half birthday.


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