A/n: The title comes from a movie I saw long ago. The subject is one I've wanted to tackle for a very long time! I'm excited.
In terms of impartial judges, a sofa reigns supreme. I might lecture myself all the way home that I hadn't really worked harder than usual—that I was growing lazy. However, when the feeling I experienced upon sinking down on the soft couch was akin to euphoria, I couldn't deny I was exhausted in mind and body.
I closed my eyes, listening to the snaps and pops from the fireplace, and made my evening plans. A little rest was in order, and then perhaps I would revisit one of my favorite novels (I had dined already in a small café on the way home from my rounds).
Holmes called to me from his room; he wanted me to shut the sitting room window, which I had cracked open.
I was loathe to get up--was, in fact, quite enjoying the whisper of cool air that crept into the room and curled about me like a cat. I told Holmes so in frank and certain terms, with perhaps a touch of asperity. As I said earlier, I was exhausted both physically and mentally.
He pressed his case, and now I could detect a note of feebleness in his voice. It was then I knew, and with a frown I brought myself to my feet, stepped to his open doorway and looked inside. He was lying in bed, straining to reach the gas bracket.
"Ah, there you are. Do you suppose, Watson, you could dim the light for me? I'm not one to follow London fashions, as you know—but this latest mode of catching a cold is proving irresistible."
"Holmes, I'm tired. I want to rest by the fire and do some reading."
"That's perfectly understandable, old fellow; having to chase down young patients and suffer them kicking you in the shins would take the spirit out of most people." He paused, coughing lightly. "All I require is a dimming of the lights and, if you would be so good, closing the window."
I crossed my arms. "Holmes, I can't help you on a case tonight."
"But I'm not asking you to." His brows knit, then relaxed as he chuckled. "Oh Watson, you think I'm pretending? No, my dear fellow, it's nothing like that, I assure you."
"And I suppose you'd tell me if it was? No, Holmes, I've had enough of your tricks, and I'm sure you'll do just fine on your own. Goodnight, I'm going to my room."
I left without listening to another word he spoke, though he spoke earnestly, and on my way through the sitting room, I didn't shut the window—in fact, I threw open the sash, letting the docile housecat change to a lion.
I sat on the end of my bed, trying to read my battered novel. The words that had always refreshed me were now a burden, and I went to bed early.
I awoke in the middle of the night, by a sound it seemed. In a moment I heard it again—it sounded very much like a barking dog. The thing that really puzzled me, though, was that the noise came from inside the house, downstairs. I listened to it another minute before groaning in realization and hurrying into my dressing gown.
By now it was quite cold in the sitting room, and I shut the window. Blowing on my hands, I drew near to Holmes' room. He was where I'd left him, only now he was coughing fitfully, unable to speak as he saw me enter.
The kitchen is not a room I wander into during nighttime, but I ventured there that night long enough to make a cup of tea with honey, for I would not wake Mrs. Hudson. The hot drink proved soothing to Holmes' throat, and several extra blankets quelled his shivers.
I stammered an apology to him, but he brushed it aside.
"Do you know, Watson," he remarked hoarsely at last, cupping his hands around the warm mug. "I suppose it wasn't for nothing that we were told Aesop's fables as children."