Hello again! I thought of this story while I was texting my sister, who lives rather far away. It's Sherlock/John in a mostly friendship way, though hints of slashy feelings. Major amounts of fluff ahead. Hope you enjoy, feedback is food to the fangirl soul!
It was true, John and Harry Watson never had gotten on terribly well. But still, when his sister needed him, John would be there.
Since her separation from Clara, Harry had been living in a small flat, until the details of the divorce had been sorted out. But now the divorce had officially gone through, and Harry was ready to move further away. She had bought a small house a few hours outside London, and confessed to John that she was ready to "start a new life" somewhere where she could forget about her past mistakes. John sincerely hoped that this would help his sister turn over a new leaf.
So of course he had volunteered to help her with the move. It was the least he could do to show his support. He figured it would take him about four days- two to help Harry move all of her belongings to the new house, and then two more to get her situated and help her pick out new furniture (Clara had gotten most of that in the settlement). While he knew it would be a lot of heavy lifting and work, not exactly a holiday, he still relished the idea of a few days away from the crowded streets of London and the endless string of murder investigations that had become his recent life.
So with that decided all John had to do was break the news to Sherlock. When he had told him all the detective had replied was "fine," his eyes never leaving his laptop. John was unsure if he'd even been listening, so he repeated himself.
"Four days, Sherlock, you'll be by yourself here. You think you'll be alright?"
At that Sherlock had turned to glare at him. "Despite what you and the others may think, John, I am in fact an adult. I lived alone long before you came barging into my flat, and I am perfectly capable of looking after myself. I don't need a nanny." He looked away in disgust at the thought, and John was willing to bet there were some bad memories tied to that word. He could only imagine what kind of hell looking after a young Sherlock must have been.
He didn't take his friend's angry tone seriously. Sherlock simply hated to have his weaknesses pointed out. And while he was correct, that he was a fully functioning adult, John still had his doubts. Sherlock may be the world's smartest detective, but the man forgot to eat or even sleep when he was busy. John let the matter drop, but later that afternoon he sent Lestrade a text asking him to look in on Sherlock while he was gone. It made him feel a little better.
John left early the next morning, while Sherlock was still closed away inside his room. It was doubtful he was actually sleeping, but occupied with some problem or other, no doubt. He shouted a quick goodbye, but received no reply.
The first text had come only a few hours later, while John was busy packing books into large crates. He fished his phone out of his pocket to check it. It said simply:
Have you seen skull?
John shook his head in a mixture of amusement and exasperation.
Check the last place you left it, he texted back.
Honestly, it was like dealing with a five year old.
A few minutes later he received another text.
Found it, in top cupboard.
John actually laughed a bit at that; it was so typically Sherlock. He didn't even want to consider how it had ended up there. But his thoughts of his flatmate were cut short when his sister glared at him, reminding him that they had a lot of work to do.
The next text came that evening, when they had finally finished for the day and were enjoying a meal at a small Chinese restaurant. John had tried to explain to his sister Sherlock's theory about Chinese restaurants and door handles, but she had just looked at him like he was a freak. So this is what it must feel like to be Sherlock, he thought.
At the short beep he had pulled out his phone, already guessing who it was.
How do I turn on stove? Want to make tea.
Followed only seconds later by
How many tea bags go in each cup?
John chuckled a bit as he replied, explaining the intricacies of tea-preparation in terms a child would understand. Really, and Sherlock insisted he wasn't helpless.
John considered the matter closed when the reply came.
Made two cups by mistake.
For some reason it made John grin. His sister had been watching him closely through this whole exchange. When John looked up she had that smug look that Sherlock often wore when he'd deduced something that was supposed to be a secret.
"Texting your girlfriend, are you?" she asked slyly, "you didn't tell me you'd gotten another."
John tried furiously to keep down the blush that was threatening to spread over his cheeks. It was one thing that people were always insinuating that he and Sherlock were in a romantic relationship. But his sister hadn't even seen them together; all she had to do was watch his face while he thought of his friend, and her mind immediately jumped to that conclusion. Is that what it really looked like to everyone?
John cleared his throat and answered curtly, "No, it was my flatmate, the one I told you a bit about."
At that Harry just gave him a knowing look, and a soft pat on the hand. Oh, Christ.
The next text had come around three in the morning, waking John from an exhausted sleep.
Killer must have known victim. But why that location?
So Sherlock must be on a case. John knew he didn't expect a reply. Sherlock simply needed someone to think aloud to while he reasoned his way through a case. And since John wasn't there to listen, he figured sending him his thoughts was the next best thing. Maybe he had misplaced the skull again. John turned over and went back to sleep, hoping that Sherlock was close to an answer.
As he drifted to sleep he could see the genius's beautiful face as he paced around the apartment, fingers steepled in concentration…
John had woken up to a whole string of texts the next morning. Apparently Sherlock had indeed solved the case, and had explained the reasoning to John in such discombobulated bursts that he couldn't follow the train of thought at all. Not that it mattered, since it was apparently taken care of now, without any help from him.
He felt just a slight pang at the thought that Sherlock really didn't need him there to solve cases after all. Not that he had any illusions that he was a major contributor, but still, he liked to think that he was part of the team. He suddenly longed to be at a crime scene, examining a dead body, rather than having breakfast with his sister. It was a crazy thought.
Sherlock must have been properly occupied that day. John got through an entire day of moving, and his shoulder was aching by the time he sat down to rest in front of the telly that evening. The alert beep didn't surprise him at all; in fact, he had expected it sooner.
Think milk has gone off again. How to tell?
John shook his head as he replied. Sherlock might survive on his own, but he could still make himself very sick. John determined to teach him a few important life lessons when he got home.
The next text was somewhat enigmatic.
Skull not the same.
John pondered this for a moment. Had something happened to the skull? Had it been damaged wherever it had been hiding recently?
But then the next text clarified.
Doesn't laugh like you do.
Oh. So that was what he had meant. This time John did blush just a little, since he was alone and no one could see. Sherlock was never one to dispense praise freely. In fact, he called John an idiot more often than he thanked him. But still, sometimes, in his own offhanded way, Sherlock would drop these clues to how he really felt.
Sherlock, John realized, missed him. He wouldn't come out and say it, not the proud consulting detective, but John had gotten good at reading between the lines with his temperamental friend. The skull wouldn't do for company, because he missed having John around.
It was a thought that brought warmth to John's chest. He would begrudgingly admit that he missed Sherlock too. Being with his sister just wasn't the same. He missed the excitement of watching Sherlock's mind work a million miles a minute, or even just sitting in front of the telly and listening to him shout at the stupid characters who couldn't figure out the obvious. It was where he belonged, really.
The third day John was beginning to get a bit cranky himself. Harry was in a bossy mood, and his shoulder ached with the strain. And Sherlock's increasingly frequent texts weren't helping. If John didn't know better, he would say the other man was being downright whiny. Several times he had texted only the word "bored," with no other explanation. After that he had written a short diatribe on the unoriginality of London's criminal classes, followed by remarks on the incompetence of all of Scotland Yard. Yes, Sherlock was definitely in a pissy mood. John wondered if he would find more bullet holes in the wall when he returned.
Finally John hadn't been able to take it anymore. Sherlock had complained that there was no food in the house—which meant at least that he was eating, or attempting to—and rather petulantly asked John to run to the market, knowing full well how unreasonable that was.
At that point John had sent back an annoyed text.
Be home in a day, can't you bug Mrs. Hudson until then?
The reply had come almost too quickly.
1674 minutes. Too long to wait.
John just stared blankly at his phone for a moment. 1674 minutes. Sherlock had actually calculated out the minutes until John would be home. Not that that was a major feat for his massive intellect, and he could be anal about precision, but that still seemed a bit much. No, Sherlock wasn't just being his usual precise self. He was counting down the very minutes until John arrived home.
Before John could think about it too deeply he had jumped off the couch. He grabbed his coat and was on his way out the door when he remembered his sister.
"Harry, so sorry, gotta run, call you later." He heard her confused reply as he closed the door behind him.
He grabbed the first cab that passed, and went to the nearest train station. He was almost three hours outside London, and it felt like three hours too long. He wanted to be home so badly, right now. To be sitting next to Sherlock on the sofa, drinking the tea he had expertly prepared for them, maybe listening to Sherlock play his violin. He wanted to be home.
The train ride had seemed interminably long, and John hadn't received any more texts. Maybe Sherlock had realized that he'd shown his hand. Maybe he had found something to occupy him. But it didn't matter anymore; John was on his way.
As he walked up the steps to their flat he felt a sense of relief. He had been lecturing Sherlock on how it was only four days, but he suddenly understood that it was far too long. That he had missed everything about 221b Baker Street far more than he had realized.
He opened the door quietly. It was quite late by now, and since Sherlock apparently had time to eat, maybe he would even be sleeping tonight. But John sincerely hoped he wasn't. He didn't think he could wait until morning to see him.
But there he was, Sherlock Holmes, genius detective, standing in his house robe, looking out the window, his hair messy and face slack. His expression was almost despondent as he stared out at the quiet streets. He was apparently lost in his thoughts, because he didn't even notice John's presence until he closed the door.
The taller man spun around quickly, eyes going wide at the sight of John in the doorway. He didn't even try to hide the grin that lit up his face. It was perhaps the most sincerely happy that John had ever seen him. That smile made his own lips grin in response.
"Well," he started awkwardly, not sure how to explain his unexpected presence. Could he admit that he had missed his crazy friend just as much as Sherlock had obviously missed him?
"…I'm home." Apparently that one phrase conveyed what he meant to say. Sherlock nodded solemnly.
"Welcome home, John. Make me some tea?"