John cursed at a knock at the door. Of course Sherlock wouldn't budge; he was curled up on the couch like a cat, sulking as sun set on the third consecutive day without a case.
"I'll just get it then, shall I?" John muttered, turning the stove burner to low and throwing a towel over his shoulder. He could only hope it was Lestrade with a case, or a client with a problem that was more exciting than infidelity.
"Greg, hey." He stepped aside and let the inspector enter, catching a flash of blue in his peripheral as Sherlock scuttled to the hall.
"Sherlock Holmes, sit your arse down." Greg move his finger from Sherlock to the couch nearest the door.
It took John a moment to recover from the shock of watching Sherlock obey, head bent. "What's he done this time?"
Greg held out his palm. "Hand it over."
Sherlock didn't move.
"I know it's on you, Sherlock, you wouldn't have tried to run if it wasn't. Be a good lad, now." He nodded as Sherlock took out the latest stolen badge and placed it gently in Lestrade's cupped hand.
"When did you steal that?" John asked.
"John, kitchen?" Greg turned to Sherlock. "Stay put."
Greg sighed and dropped his badge on the table. "He came by the Yard this morning to make sure I wasn't withholding a case from him. Must have nicked it in my office."
"Sorry. He's been especially ornery this week. Can't get him to eat anything and he's not even working." He motioned towards the stove. "I've got some plain broth heating up. I managed to pour some tea down his throat yesterday but that's all."
"Yeah, I figured he hadn't been eating."
John frowned. "How?"
"I mean one look at him is evidence enough. But him stealing my badge…don't get me wrong, they cost me a few quid to replace. Chief inspector thinks I'm the king of losing stuff. But whatever, at first Sherlock stole them to get into situations. Stopping taxis, getting past security. Lately though, it's not about access. It's escape."
"Last time he stole one off me was a few years ago. He took it before hitting up. Went to get medical care, got what he needed and flashed the badge to get out before any real care or questions came up."
"He's not using. He's more of a git lately, like I said, but there hasn't been a real danger night for awhile. I would have noticed."
"I know. But he's not eating. He gets away with that during cases, but when's the last time he refused to eat even when he was bored?"
John moved an exasperated hand towards the stove. "I'm trying."
"John. I know." Greg put a hand on his shoulder. "I'm not saying you're not looking after him. Trust me, since you came into his life, I rest a lot easier. But he stole my badge. He's not planning on eating. He's given himself resources to get out of care."
John sat and rested his face in his hands. Everyone thought he did a great job taking care of Sherlock, but they didn't see everything Greg did in the background. It was the grey-haired inspector who found Sherlock a decade ago on the streets of London; he walked him through his first detox, opened up his home and, eventually, career. His whole life, really.
"What do we do?"
"Movie night?" Lestrade asked, and John nodded. "Listen, put some basil in the broth."
"Yeah. It's his favourite. A little more incentive, you know? And," he said, pulling a pack of biscuits out of his briefcase, "I think dessert'll be in order too."
"Greg. Thanks. Really."
Lestrade smirked. "I'll get us set up."
Lestrade found Sherlock just as he'd left him, eyes on the floorboards. He sat next to him and patted his knee.
"I hear you've been giving John more hell than usual."
Sherlock didn't answer.
"You know I don't put up with silence, Sherlock."
He cleared his throat. "I'm not hungry."
"Yeah but we've gotta take care of our transport, don't we? Come here." He extended his arm along the couch's edge, and Sherlock slowly lowered his head into the dip of his shoulder. "What's going on? You know we worry about you."
"Yeah? Well, we can work with that. Remember what we talked about last time, though? Starving your body of everything won't make it any easier."
"I can focus on the hunger pains instead."
"Stop trying to mask pain with pain. Look." Lestrade sat him up as John came in with the broth.
"Tea, too? Or some bread?" John offered.
Sherlock looked down and shook his head. The spoon clattered against the bowl and he looked at Lestrade as the steam floated upwards. "You remembered."
"Course I did." He ruffled his hair and grabbed the remote. "What'll it be tonight, boys? A good detective story?"