Disclaimer: Characters not owned by me, rest of it is. Woop!
He should've known this was coming. The pre-sleep headache, the aching muscles, the tired, gritty eyes. They were all signs, and maybe if he were Sherlock, he would have deduced it all away, or taken some kind of drug, or just not gone to sleep.
But Watson isn't Sherlock. And he had gone to sleep, because after a nice cold swim in the Thames, a warm bed had seemed like such a good plan. But apparently, there was something about swimming in the Thames in March that didn't bode well for health, and really, really, as a doctor, he should have known better.
Not that it had been his choice, of course.
But John hasn't felt this bad in a long time. Through all his time in Afghanistan, he had never been ill. Shot, admittedly, but not ill. And he doesn't know what to do, which is silly, because once again his brain sluggishly reminds him that he's a doctor, and he should know what to do.
A sliver of pain jabs behind his eyes, and his arms are too heavy and aching to move to massage the pain away, and he can't even move to curl up into a self-pitying ball. And so he lies there, taking a kind-of inventory, because isn't that something that Sherlock would do? Make a note of all the things that hurt, or aren't quite right? And then cook eye-balls or something.
John accepts that maybe he's not thinking quite straight at the moment.
For a few minutes, his plan of laying on his back in the middle of the bed works well. But then he feels a tickle in his throat, and before he can even tense in preparation, a deep, racking cough is tearing through him. His aching body jerks with each cough, and this hurts. His shoulder is jarring, and his leg spasms, and all he can do is lie there and wait until pain passes.
When it does, John can barely think straight, although Sherlock would say that he doesn't think straight anyway. Cold shivers make him tremble, and he's cold. So cold. He tries to drag in a deep breath to calm his flagging body, but all this does is set off more coughing, and he can feel the tears coursing down his cheeks. He's gasping, fingers fisting around the damp blanket, eyes tightly closed.
So inwardly focused, John doesn't hear the bedroom door open, or the soft calling of his name, but he feels the touch as soon as another hand strokes his over-sensitised skin. He jerks back, eyes flying open, then closing again as the light hits him, and a whimper passes his lips before he can stop it.
'Lights,' he rasps, and he hears movement that somehow sounds both too harsh and dulled to his deadened senses, and then the light blissfully fades to dark, and he dares to open his eyes again. Sherlock's expression is both concerned and confused.
'You are ill.' He states, and John has to fight back a laugh he knows will only make him cough again.
'No shit.' His voice is barely a whisper, but even that hurts his throat, and he winces, which only sends another round of lancing pain through his head. He looks back at Sherlock, whose eyes haven't left his face. The man looks distinctly uncomfortable.
'I, uh.' Sherlock clears his throat. 'I don't know….'
Watson sighs inwardly, and braces himself before speaking.
'Water. Painkillers.' He manages, before another fit of coughing grips him and he curls tighter in on himself. When it's finally over, he feels a cool hand on his forehead, and he's leaning into it before he even realises. A gentle stroke of a thumb, then the hand is gone and John hears Sherlock's footsteps walking quickly away.
He's back before John even really notices he's gone, which is odd, because Sherlock doesn't know where anything is in the kitchen. But the glass of water and packet of paracetamol on his bedside table suggest otherwise, and Watson thinks this may mean something but his head is much too fuzzy to concentrate.
And right now, he has more important things to concentrate on. Most pressing is the issue to sitting up to drink the water, because as much as John doesn't want to get water everywhere, but he knows his shoulder will give way if he tries to sit. But Sherlock is watching his every move with those ever-searching eyes, and before John even moves towards the glass, he's there beside him on the bed.
A long arm slips under John's back, and with a gentleness he didn't know Sherlock possessed, he's being lifted slowly, up and back until he's resting against something.
Even the slight movement causes his body to protest, and it takes a moment before John can open his eyes and settle his breathing. But then it catches as he looks up, and realises what he's leaning on.
Sherlock has moved behind him, long arms wrapped tightly around him, and John can feel the warmth of his body pressing into his back. Even in his hazy state, John can feel his body reacting to the heat, and apparently so can Sherlock if the slight chuckle, deep and low next to his ear, is anything to go by.
Sherlock, however, doesn't say anything, but instead reaches for the paracetamol packet. He hesitates slightly.
'How many for a normal does?' He enquires quietly, and John barely chokes back an alarmed response, because it is obvious from that question that Sherlock has done his usual experiments. Instead, he rasps out the answer, and the detective pops out the pills before putting the foil packet back on the table.
It is only when John goes to move his arms to take the pills away from Sherlock that he realises what is going to happen. Somehow and most definitely on purpose, because nothing Sherlock does is otherwise, John is in a position where he literally can't move his arms. Which mean….
Sherlock picks up one of the pills in his fingers and brings it to John's lips.
'Open up.' He says, voice sending wonderful shivers down John's spine, and the doctor hesitates slightly, before giving in and opening his mouth. Those fingers dart inside, and place the pill on his tongue, before holding the glass of water to his lips. He sips, the thought registering in the back of his mind that this is more than a little intimate, but then Sherlock's fingers are back with the second pill and the thought is scattered.
Swallowing tablets seems to have been a huge effort, for a reason that John can't quite work out partly because his brain is more than a little sickness-induced hazy, but also because he just can't concentrate with the warmth of Sherlock pressed against his back, and the slow movement of his hands through John's hair.
The movement is relaxing after John gets used to the sparks the touching brings, and after a while, he feels his eyes begin to drift shut.
'Sherlock.' He mumbles, and the movement pauses for a moment before continuing. Sherlock shifts behind him and leans forward, his mouth brushing John's ear.
'I'll stay right here.' He says, voice low and comforting. And apparently that's all John needed, because his eyes drift shut, and his unsteady breathing evens out, but the movement of Sherlock's hand in his hair doesn't stop.