I neither own nor profit from any of these characters; they are the property of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss and the BBC.
If you see something that you think ought to be changed or improved, please feel free to let me know, if you'd like. Constructive criticism is always welcome.
Written for a simultaneous writing prompt from Feej – you can find Feej's version of Sherlock's refusal to sleep at /s/6987328/1/.
It was three o'clock in the morning on the fourth night when John finally gave in.
Lestrade was used to interrupted sleep by that point; being a Detective Inspector essentially meant being on-call twenty-four hours a day (and the summons came twice as often when you were the lucky Detective Inspector who fielded the cases that interested Sherlock Holmes). He answered his mobile without a trace of sluggishness in his voice, and nodded when he heard John's predicament.
"I'll be right over."
And he was, having used a patrol car to drive to Baker Street instead of hunting for a cab at that hour of the morning. John greeted him at the door, his face lined with weariness. From somewhere in the flat behind him, Lestrade could hear the strains of classical music being played on a violin.
He gestured past John to the source of the music. "He's been at it all night, then?"
"And then some," John sighed. "It was all right for the first night or two; at least he was quiet then. But I'm starting to worry. This isn't normal."
"You were expecting normal from Sherlock?"
John considered this for a moment. "Good point." He swung the door open wider, waved a hand to usher Lestrade into the flat. "Tea?"
"Yes, please," replied Sherlock from the window, his back to them both.
John exchanged a meaningful look with Lestrade, but got three cups out of the cabinet and filled the kettle enough for all of them.
Having put Sherlock's cup down on the bookshelf nearest him (with a saucer and a coaster; the acid burns on the dining table were evidence enough for John that Sherlock had no idea how to treat furniture), John settled at the table opposite Lestrade.
"Help," he said quietly.
Lestrade nodded his understanding. "How long have you been up?" he asked.
"Since Bach," was John's weary response, "and he's on Paganini now, so… forever, I think." He rested his head in his hands. "I've got a full day at the surgery tomorrow, and they're already none too pleased with me over the last time Sherlock had me up all hours. At least then it was for a case."
"He gets like this," Lestrade told him.
"He used to ring me up every other night, demanding a case."
"What, and you were supposed to just magic one up for him, were you?"
Lestrade chuckled. "Honestly, I don't think he'd have minded if I'd been the one to put the body there, just so long as there was something for him to do."
John's grin answered him. "Well, if anybody could drive you to murder, it'd be Sherlock."
"I can hear you, you know," came the detective's voice, over the drawn-out introductory notes of the Fourth Caprice.
Lestrade dropped his voice to mutter, "We could just murder him. It'd solve both of our problems at once."
"Still hear you," from Sherlock. "And Mycroft is probably recording you right now, so perhaps death threats are a little unbecoming to your title, Detective Inspector."
"That wasn't a threat, Sherlock, it was a promise. To John."
John bit down on his laughter just in time.
"Really, though," Lestrade continued, "four nights is a bit much, even for you. What are you playing at?"
A sigh from the other side of the table, and John dropped his head into his hands again, running his fingers through his hair in exasperation.
"John's tired, Sherlock."
"And I am bored."
"I thought you were bored."
"Busy being bored."
"Come here or I'll telephone Mycroft, and you and I both know he'll have something to say about this."
Sherlock glared daggers at him from the window, but finally deigned to lay down his violin on the couch and walk stiffly over to the table where Lestrade still sat, observing him, his expression deadpan.
"John," said Lestrade, "why don't you go and get some sleep? I promise I won't let him disturb you anymore."
"What about you?"
"Oh, I won't stay long. Good night, John."
"Good night, Inspector."
Lestrade watched John leave, tired footsteps creaking up each stair to his bedroom, before turning back to Sherlock. His face, when he met the consulting detective's eyes, had lost all trace of humour.
Sherlock glanced after John, to make certain he was really gone, then nodded at Lestrade. He settled himself into his flatmate's recently-vacated seat at the table, wrapping his hands around his tea mug.
"No more so than usual."
"They've kept you up for four nights."
"Sherlock, give me something to work with here."
Sherlock reflexively drew a breath, as if to fire off another smartarse retort, but clamped down on it when he saw Lestrade's expression. Instead, he spoke softly and, for once, sincerely.
"There is no need for concern. I will be fine."
"You need a rest. Couch. Go on."
"I do live here, you know. I have a bedroom." But as dry as Sherlock's wit could be, Lestrade was still quite competent in the area of withering looks, and even as the detective finished his sentence, he was crossing swiftly to the couch, sweeping his books and papers to the floor with supreme unconcern. (The violin, fortunately, received somewhat more careful treatment.)
The inspector remained in his chair, watching Sherlock assume the most uncomfortably rigid position he'd ever seen for sleeping. It wouldn't last, though; Lestrade had seen Sherlock sleep on couches before, and he knew that by morning, the detective's long limbs would be flung all across the couch until it would seem impossible that he could actually still be asleep in such positions. He allowed himself a slight smile, remembering – Sherlock hadn't always waited for an invitation before assuming possession of Lestrade's living room, and more than once, Lestrade had exited his bedroom to be greeted with the startling sight of what appeared to be a daddy-long-legs with delusions of grandeur asleep on his couch.
He waited until Sherlock was flat on his back, eyes closed and breathing evenly, before he moved from the dining table to an uncomfortable spot on the floor beside the couch and asked, "Why didn't you tell me sooner?"
Sherlock opened his eyes again. "I didn't need to."
"You thought four nights of insomnia was a better way to go about things."
"No, I… It was getting better."
Sherlock let his eyes slip closed again as he nodded.
He almost didn't catch the answer, had to strain his ears to get every word.
"John has nightmares, too."
Lestrade opened his mouth, the obvious next question ready – Why does that make it better? – before he stopped himself. He had never asked why Sherlock had used to come and sleep at his flat when the nightmares grew too much to bear. He had assumed it was because Sherlock had no other friends, or because he would sooner be caught dead than go to Mycroft for help. It had never occurred to Lestrade that maybe he hadn't just been looking for somewhere else to sleep, a place that would be less crowded with his own demons. Maybe there was a reason Sherlock slept more easily when he knew the inspector was in the next room over. Maybe he just needed someone else to share the demons.
How did he know, Lestrade wondered, about my nightmares?
"You won't tell John?" The detective sounded suddenly vulnerable.
"Not a word."
Sherlock rolled over on the couch then, his face buried in his ridiculous Union flag cushion. He wasn't going to be able to breathe, Lestrade thought.
"Good night, Inspector." John's words, in Sherlock's somewhat muffled voice.
"Good night, Sherlock," said Lestrade
But he didn't leave right away. Instead, he stayed beside the couch, gently running a hand up and down Sherlock's back until he could tell from the deep, even breathing and relaxed muscles that sleep had somehow managed to find the detective.
It found him, too, shortly thereafter, but one night in John's comfortable reclining chair wouldn't kill him. And as long as he stayed, he, too, could share in the momentary peace of nightmares held at bay.