A/n: I wrote this about six months ago, didn't feel like posting 'til now. I wonder if you notice any differences between this and my newer works? It would be interesting to know!
"Upon my word, Holmes, I don't understand why you have to do this over and over, why can't you simply choose cases that will not tax you so much? And why not take longer breaks in between?"
"Some people, Watson, do not like to work at a steady, even pace. Some people like to burn themselves out in great bursts of energy, and then spend some time recuperating."
"But listen—the very words you choose! Recuperate! Can't you see what you're doing to yourself?"
"It's the way I choose to function, I could do nothing else. Can you live as I do? Then do not ask me to conform to your way."
"It seems so imbalanced…"
"It is, yes." He sipped a spoonful of cream of tomato. "Which makes it entirely more exciting."
"But it's not very exciting now, is it? When you're flat on your back with nothing you can do?"
"Ah, well, everyone looks at things in their own way. To you, I must be bored. For myself, however…" and he stretched full length on the couch and wiggled his toes in pleasure, "I am quite content to have a chance to rest after my exertion on the case. I enjoy it all the more because I need it."
"You weren't so happy yesterday when you were just about feverish with nerves."
"Well, no. Perhaps not."
I buried my face in my hands. "If you won't think of yourself, spare a thought for me. I had to cancel an examination yesterday when you were breaking down."
"You—you did? I didn't know that, Watson. My apologies."
"Well, like I said it was an exam, not an emergency," I amended, taking the empty bowl from him and setting it on the low table between us. "Don't feel badly, it was all right. I rescheduled for the morrow."
I sighed and rubbed at my back, wondering how long I should wait to take Holmes' temperature again, and noticed he was gazing into the distance, absently running the edge of the blanket through his fingers.
"I'll let you get some rest now, Holmes. The soup should warm you, but there are a couple extra blankets on the floor if you need them; it's unusually cold for September." I stood stiffly, arched my back with a soft grunt and made to pick up the bowl.
"Please, don't. I'll take care of it later."
"But you're unwell!"
"Hence the qualifying word 'later.' Do leave it, Watson, I don't…you have an article to write, not? Go on, old fellow."
"Well—if you're sure. I should get that article started, and I can have the rough draft done by tonight if I put my mind to it."
"Good fellow, good fellow," Holmes muttered, grasping the blanket with his fingers and averting his grey gaze.
I paused at the doorway to the sitting room. "Holmes…everything's…all right, isn't it?"
He met my gaze a moment. "Of course, Watson."
But in the morning, the sitting room air was dense with tobacco smoke, and he had withdrawn to his own room.