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Fic: The aesthetics of the fall

Title: The aesthetics of the fall
Fandom: Elementary
Rating PG
Characters: Sherlock Holmes, Joan Watson, Sherlock's father, Oscar Rankin
Length: 400
Alternate Link: AO3
Author's Notes: Written for the watsons_woes JWP Prompt 2015 #31: Putting on a Show. The title is taken from The Theatrical Firearms Handbook by Kevin Inouye. Episode tag to the season 3 finale, 'A Controlled Descent.' Unbeta'd.
Warnings: Potential triggers include mention of drug use and addiction, as well as implications of emotional abuse.

Summary: Father always could see right through me.

I'm relieved when Watson walks away. Her relentless compassion and concern are wearying. I find myself unable to move or speak in her presence; an actor failing to improvise on a familiar role in a situation where none of my memorized lines apply.

Were I to open my mouth, I've no idea what words might come out.

First Watson, then Kitty Winters. Perhaps it was never a protégé I needed, so much as an audience to gasp and thrill and applaud my performance as Sherlock Holmes, eccentric genius detective.

Eccentricity is the key. Attempts in my youth proved that even the appearance of normality was beyond me. Father provided the necessary wealth, but made it clear that the line between eccentricity and insanity was a fine one, and only indisputable competency in my endeavours would keep me the right side of it.

I've done well for myself. Established my independence here in New York. Achieved a high degree of satisfaction in my life, both personally and professionally. Excelled in my field.

Not that father will see it that way.

Oscar Rankin certainly didn't. The Sherlock Holmes he knew was a very different animal, indeed. A violent, unstable addict.

Was he wrong? No. Demonstrably, no. The rebound effects of heroin are evident in my body; restlessness, depression, cravings. Such cravings. I've not slept in four days.

The mute testimony of Oscar's body is perhaps even more telling.

Yet Watson is not wrong. I solved the case. Alfredo is safe.

I am both. I can be both. I may be neither.

A bee lands on my hand. I curb an addict's twitch so that I might study this specimen of Euglassia watsonia. It crawls across my hand, tasting. I wonder if the bee can sense the chemical imbalance in my body, the sticky sweat, the exhaustion and anxiety. Soon it will report back to the hive.

The queen has no expectations of my genius, my sobriety, or my morality. She is a perfectly impartial observer. And so she is the only fit audience for me tonight.

Tomorrow Father will arrive. I know what he will see, when he looks at me. The question is, who will I see? Who will I be? I must decide, and armour myself in that identity, if I am to survive his visit.

Perhaps I'll be able to get a few hours sleep before I have to face him in the morning.