It started with a haircut. Just an ordinary trip to the barber's that turned into something diabolical that surely was dreamed up by Satan's hairdresser. John wasn't an especially vain person, but even he was pained by what he saw in the mirror when the girl was done. He should have known better than to let some pink-haired extra from a failed video-game-turned-film come near him with scissors. He would have to wear hats for the next fortnight at a minimum. He could only imagine Sherlock's reaction when he got home.
It moved on to the coffee cart. There was one across from the tube station just up the road. A street vendor with an espresso machine of all things. People'd been watching reruns of "Frasier" and that awful show "Gray's Anatomy", and so Seattle and its apparently infinite supply of coffee carts were suddenly all the rage. Still, the coffee smelled good, and so he got one. The first sip never made it past his lips as the plastic lid popped off, pouring scalding coffee down the front of his jumper. At least the jumper was already a sort of murky brown in colour, and it kept him from getting burnt. Small favours.
Waiting to cross the busy High Street, a woman bumped into him, barely jostling his arm. She muttered an apology and John offered a smile and a soft, "No problem." It was only after the light changed and he began to walk across the road that he noticed his foot was wet and a bit squelchy inside his trainer. He frowned in puzzlement and looked around, only to see the woman and her dog continuing to cross, apparently oblivious to the mutt's sordid behaviour towards John's shoe. "Bloody hell," he muttered, shaking his foot and hopping a bit. He reached the other side of the road without further incident.
He squelched his way down the stairs to the Underground. He nearly slipped on a wrapper someone had tossed onto the steps, but managed to keep his footing by sheer strength of will. He absolutely refused to give in despite all that the forces of the universe threw at him today. He took a small nugget of satisfaction in his success.
The day was looking up when he caught the first train and found a seat that didn't even have gum or some other less savoury and less easily identifiable substance on it. A woman with an infant sat next to him and he scooted over to give her a bit more room for her enormous bag. She smiled her thanks and he returned the smile with a fledgling one of his own. It was warm in the train. The smell of humanity mingled in the stale air with the ever-present smell of a century of soot. It was a familiar mix and John found it oddly comforting. It was something uniquely London. The baby next to him, however, found the combination of rumbling motion and growing temperature and thick air less than conducive, it seemed.
Vomit added itself to the mess already on his jumper. A fresh shade of off-bland to add to the brown and the coffee. The woman apologized profusely while at the same time trying to comfort her distressed offspring. John only shook his head and said, "It's fine, really. Nobody's fault." The woman fished a clean cloth nappy from her bag and handed it to him. He used it to wipe off as much of the spit-up as he could manage. Small favours.
The woman got off at the next stop, leaving John with the now vomitous nappy. He looked in vain for somewhere to dispose of the thing, knowing from the start that the effort was pointless. He gave up, wrapped it in itself as best he could, and put it in the pocket of his coat.
More humanity flooded into the train. When another woman with a small child got on, he rose and gallantly offered her his seat. She didn't need to know why.
At the next stop, a gaggle of tweens boarded, all talking loudly, presumably so they could hear each other despite the earbuds each one of them had plugged into his or her ears.
"Wha'?" one girl shouted to another and pulled one of the buds from her elaborately pierced ear. Tinny strains of Duran Duran threaded from the earpiece directly into John's brain before the girl laughed and shoved it back into her ear.
I smell like I sound, I'm lost and I'm found, and I'm hungry like the wolf. Straddle the line, it's discord and rhyme, I'm on the hunt I'm after you
That was all. Just enough to get lodged in John's consciousness and trapped there in the folds of his grey matter. What the hell was a girl her age doing listening to Duran Duran anyway? Why couldn't she listen to something from her own generation? Something he'd never heard before? Something forgettable? Instead, she'd decided "retro" was the way to go today and so John was stuck with his least favourite song from his youth playing on a continual 14-second loop in his brain. If Simon Le Bon got on the train right now, John would be forced to kill him. And what the hell was up with that song's video anyway? Great. Now that was stuck in his head, too.
John emerged from the tube with one thought in mind. Well, one thought with musical underscoring by Duran fucking Duran. He had to get home. It was safe at home. Okay, he lived with a high-functioning sociopath who probably didn't even know who Duran Duran was--the band or the character from Barbarella--and who would probably offer some emotionless remark about John's hair cut that was as hurtful as it was factual, but right now, that sounded like heaven on Earth. Besides, there was tea at home. And a shower. And clean clothes. And hats.
His front door came into view, and like the horse that knows it's nearing the stable, John picked up his pace. His foot slipped in his pee-soaked trainer; the nappy in his pocket had begun to seep through; and he smelled like like He couldn't bear to think what he smelled like. He knew full well what it was creating that sick-making aroma and no simile could make it better or worse than it already was.
He all but sprinted up the stairs and flung himself through the sitting room and into his bedroom.
"John?" came the startled query from his flatmate.
John turned in the middle of stripping down to his knickers to see Sherlock standing in the doorway regarding him with a mildly curious expression on his pale face. "Bad day. Very. Bad. Day." It was then he noticed the Strad in Sherlock's hands. "Play something."
"I don't care. Anything. As long as it's from before 1982." He pushed past Sherlock and headed to the bathroom.
"What are you doing?"
"Showering. Don't ask. Just, please, play something." He started the water running and shimmied out of his knickers while it heated. Strains of something that he thought might be Brahms started up in the next room. John left the door open so he could hear it better as he washed away coffee, urine, vomit, and Simon Le Bon.
He stuck his head under the water and scrubbed at the disaster that was his hair. In the many horrors of the rest of his day, he'd almost managed to forget the one that had started it all.
Trying to salvage something of such a wretched day, he counted the things that had gone right: 1) Sherlock was here when John had made it home at last, 2) Sherlock was now playing something wonderful on the violin, and 3) Sherlock hadn't said a word about his demon-spawned haircut.
A slow, genuine smile spread across John's lips. "I guess it's not such a bad day after all."
Simon Le Bon could kiss his ass.