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Sherlock Fanfic: Start Again. (JWP 2014 #28) - CaffieneKittySpace
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Sherlock Fanfic: Start Again. (JWP 2014 #28)
Title: Start Again
Fandom: Sherlock (BBC)
Alternate Postings: At AO3
Rating/Content: PG13, ANGST, pre-series, social phobia, agoraphobia, mental illness, military references, POV John, a bit of paranoia
Warnings: depictions of depression and anxiety with OCD ritual, mental health issues, passing mention of suicidal ideation, self-hatred.
Word Count: 2170
Disclaimer: Not my world.
Notes: Written for watsons_woes July Writing Prompt #28: It's All In the Details - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, either diagnosed or not. This got a little personal for me, and therefore is likely really out of character for John, but it is definitely a woeful Watson. It's also well past all the deadlines, sorry. Not humour.

Summary: John had worked up to walks through the park now, and that only made him feel worse.

Start Again

Bed made. Lamp off. Check the window. Closed, latched. Curtains drawn- No. Draw curtains. Start again.

John had worked up to walks through the park now, and that only made him feel worse. That it should be so much effort to get out and walk a few blocks where no one was likely to shoot at him or even notice him was more than galling, it was horrifying.

Bed made. Lamp off. Check the window. Closed, latched. Curtains drawn. Heating off- -not that he could afford to pay for it so it being on or off was immaterial, and he'd have to see about getting it turned on before winter properly began, drafty bloody flat- No. Distracted. Start again.

The first few months while he was discharged from hospital but still in temporary housing on base, John had gone to every physio and therapy appointment religiously. He'd done every scrap of exercise, pushed himself as hard as he could, talked to the therapists at Selly Oak about whatever they thought was important to his recovery. He'd thought he could show them he was fine, that he was fit for duty, and they'd send him back in. Then they'd given him his finalized honourable discharge papers, a pension and a utility flat and that was it. Her Majesty's Armed Forces had declared him useless.

After that it had felt impossible to get out to all the damned appointments (don't bother, just leave me to rot), to the shops, to anything. All useless wasted effort. He should just stay in the box they'd put him in and just not bother anymore because nothing could change. This was what he was now. Something to keep out of the way in a little beige box of a flat.

John had gone out to most of the appointments regardless; shouting himself down inside, bullying himself out the door, then jittering with anxiety until he got back and could lock the door on the world that didn't have a use for him. Back to that little beige box where the only good thing about those four beige walls was he was in control inside them. He had to be in control somewhere.

Inside the tiny flat, no one could tell him what his feelings and dreams should mean. If he shouted awake at three in the morning he could sit there, breathing, remembering, waiting for the dawn to chase away the feelings of uselessness and worthlessness, cursing his damaged shoulder and ridiculous leg.

Therapy with Ella really wasn't helping. PTSD, might as well have it rubber-stamped on his forehead. Somehow he was considered more acceptably broken if he feared the war than if he wanted to go back and help his mates, serve his country. It somehow wasn't as acceptable that he wanted to be useful, be part of something larger, save some lives, kick some arse, maybe be there to do something right and good on the rare opportunity the chance arose, in a mad war that had gone on fruitlessly in one form or another for centuries and- Calm. Focus. Start again.

Bed made. Lamp off. Check the window. Closed, latched. Curtains drawn. Heating off. Off. Sleeping area clear. He opened his left hand from its fist, patted his leg, once, twice, then turned to face the other side of the room, cane thumping on the floor.


John opened the drawer, checked under the laptop. Gun stowed. He hesitated. Gun secure. Cleaned it last night. I should just- He closed his eyes. Breathe. Gun stowed. He lowered the laptop, checking the power light as he did. Laptop off. Laptop stowed. Holding the drawer handle, he looked down at the laptop, past the grey surface, thinking of what was underneath, drifting, then made a noise of disgust at himself. No. Idiot. Distracted. Start again.

He always did this, this back and forthing, rechecking. Why did he even still have the gun? John snorted at himself. He knew quite well why he still had that gun. Start. Again. John sighed. Back to the last cleared checkpoint.

Sleeping area cleared. Open hand, pat leg. Desk. Open drawer, lift laptop. Gun stowed. Lower laptop. Laptop off. Laptop stowed. John slid the drawer shut. Desk drawer closed. Lamp off. Desk clear. Open hand, pat leg. Room clear. Pat again. Once, twice. He turned away to face the next room.

Kitchen. Such as it was. Two-burner cooktop stove, half-sized fridge, sink, all of four cupboards. So much more than any of his troop had had individually in the field on missions, and yet he'd take his mess kit and hexamine stove over the lot. Food tasted better out there, even if it was boiled in a bag. It had felt like he'd earned it. Here he had put the same damned apple next to his morning tea three days running and couldn't muster the appetite to take a single bite of it.

He frowned and patted his leg again. Main room is cleared. On to kitchen.

Food stowed- No, bloody milk. John put the jug away, then went around the room, tapping things as he checked them. Food stowed. Fridge door closed. Kettle off. Taps off. Cooktop off. Not trusting the knob positioning, John ghosted his hands over the metal rings, feeling for heat. Off. Cupboards closed. Drawers closed. No dishes in sink. His RAMC mug from the morning - his new mess kit - sat in the drain pan, drying. He glanced around the kitchen for errant crumbs and smears from the toast he had for last night's dinner and saw none. Worktops wiped.

As he got closer to leaving, he felt himself tensing up. Just a bloody walk, he shouldn't feel like this for just going for a bloody walk. Kids screaming in the park for no reason other than they were in a park and could make as much noise as they liked. They didn't need helping despite the pulse of adrenaline that hit John on hearing their screams. No one needed or wanted his help. People everywhere stared at his limping form, judging.

It wasn't that he was afraid of the people or the city. He loved London. He loved it, it was part of him, always would be. But it didn't need him; just like the military didn't need him anymore. No one needed him. Broken, worthless-

Stop. Distracted. Start again.

Sleeping and desk areas clear. Open hand-

He glanced back again at the bed. Was that a wrinkle in the bedding, or just a shadow? Probably just a shadow. Probably- As John tried to turn away and forget the barely-there difference in the small bed's blanket, his upper back and neck began to stiffen, and he felt his breathing accelerate. God damn this nonsense.

Start again.

John went back to the bed. Nothing. Just a shadow. Idiot. He tugged the blanket flatter than the flat it already was. Just a shadow. Bed made. Lamp off. He tried to turn past the window and desk to go directly back to the kitchen, but tension struck between his shoulders and at his throat, and he snarled at himself. Fine. Bed made. Lamp off. Check the window. Closed and latched. Curtains drawn. Heating off. Sleeping area clear. Open fist, pat leg. Bloody idiot. Desk. Open drawer, lift laptop. Gun stowed. Lower laptop. Laptop off. Laptop stowed. Desk drawer closed. Lamp off. Desk clear. Clear. Open hand, pat leg. Room clear. He thumped on his leg much harder than a pat this time. Room. Bloody. Clear.

Kitchen now. Food stowed. Fridge door closed. Kettle off. Taps off. Cooktop off. Cupboards closed. Drawers closed. No dishes in sink. Worktops wiped. Kitchen clear. Flat clear. Unclenching his fist again, he patted his leg firmly. Flat clear.


John shrugged into his jacket and checked his pockets. Keys, wallet, phone. Cane. His grip tightened around the handle of the hated thing as he flicked the light switch off. Light off. Breathe. Listen for sounds in hall.

He stood behind the door of his flat, breathing silently, listening for footsteps or voices in the halls. Thin walls here, neighbours heard his nightmares, no need to give them a face to put them to. Focus. Listen. The slam of a door down the hall, a voice, someone talking on a mobile. Wait.

John had opened the door without listening once, early on, and a young man had been walking past his door right then. The man had said "hullo" directly at him, hadn't stopped or slowed down, just a casual meaningless greeting.

The unexpected face and voice combined with the idea that the young man had seen into his flat, seen him and probably knew he shouted late at night with no idea or care why, that knocked John right off his routine. He'd muttered something about leaving the kettle on at the retreating figure, then slammed and locked the door. He didn't manage to leave the flat after that for three days, berating himself the whole time for being ridiculous, dreading seeing some twenty-something's bland face on the other side of the door, looking at him with judgement or worse, pity, as something broken and useless-

Jesus, focus. Focus.... John ran a palm down his face. Start again. Flat clear. Open hand, pat leg. Keys, wallet, phone, cane. He reached over and flicked the light switch on again, then off. Light off. Breathe. Listen.

The faint sounds of movement and voice lessened, then the door at the end of the hall opened and slammed shut. Silence. John waited for a count of five before unlocking the door, and with a deep breath, opening it.

Open door. Check hall. He glanced down the hallway each direction. No one. Out.

Clutching his cane, he thumped out the door into the hall, quickly shutting it behind himself. Close door. He extracted his keys from his pocket, sliding the correct one into the lock and turning it. Lock door. Check door is locked. Putting his keys back in his pocket, he gripped the knob and thunked the door against the deadbolt keeping his room secured. Once, twice. Door is locked. He opened his left hand and placed his palm flat on the door below the peep-hole. Grounding.

Final check. Did I miss anything?

John hoped it wasn't a bad day. On bad days he'd be back and forth through the door and over the whole thing again, four or five times, because he couldn't remember if he'd missed something out. It was hard to tell one day's routine from another's, and it was easy to think he might be remembering checking something on some other day instead of today. When he went to recheck, it was always fine, he'd always remembered, but he still had to check because maybe one day he wouldn't have.

He knew it was all ridiculous - that the cooktop wouldn't turn itself on and that the desk drawer wouldn't open itself after he'd checked them - but he still had to check and recheck. If he didn't check there was that creeping anxiety waiting for him that something wasn't right; that he should go back to the flat and stay there and stop trying to be functional. On bad days his heart would race, and his throat would tighten, and he'd feel like if he didn't get back into his little beige box of a flat, the one space he had control in his life, the world would end. And he knew that that was completely irrational and a sign that he had mental issues, but knowing that only made it worse, because to him and to any of the people he thought might see him hyperventilating on the Tube, it was just more proof he was broken.

Focus. John, standing at his door with his palm resting in the center, closed his eyes and took a breath. Focus. Final check.

Bed made. Lamp off. Window checked, closed, latched, curtains drawn. Heating off. Gun stowed. Laptop off. Laptop stowed. Desk drawer closed. Lamp off. Main room clear. Food stowed. Fridge door closed. Kettle off. Taps off. Cooktop off. Cupboards closed. Drawers closed. No dishes in sink. Worktops wiped. Kitchen clear. Flat clear.

John slapped his palm against the center of the door.

Once. Twice. Clear.

John turned away, walked down the hall and out of the building to face the city, leaving his little beige flat secured behind him.

(that's all)

Tags: , , , ,
Current Mood: discontent discontent
Current Music: "In My Remains" ~ Linkin Park

3 comments or Leave a comment
ciaranbochna From: ciaranbochna Date: August 10th, 2014 07:02 am (UTC) (Link)
The abject despair and oppressive feel in this is stunning. Wonderful.
caffienekitty From: caffienekitty Date: August 10th, 2014 11:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
This was the one I mentioned the other day that had gotten personal. I posted it after all. *hug*
ciaranbochna From: ciaranbochna Date: August 11th, 2014 01:24 am (UTC) (Link)
I wondered, and they certainly do at times. *Hugs* I am glad you decided to post it.
3 comments or Leave a comment