Happy birthday, Christina.

Disclaimer: I do not own Sherlock.


John remembers unimportant parts of important conversations.

"He was snake-like," Sherlock says. Their bodies are together on the sofa, shoulder to shoulder, neither about to make eye contact with the other. One of the fresh wounds on Sherlock's cheek has finally stopped bleeding. "Those dreadful green eyes, I think I could never look at that color the same way. He threatened to kill you. Multiple ways, very creative."

But John only hears that Sherlock doesn't like the color green, so he later goes through both their possessions and tosses anything even remotely green into the bin.

-x-

That night, Mycroft sits across from Sherlock, who hasn't moved from the sofa, with his legs crossed and his lips pursed. There is only silence, save for the clinking of spoons against mugs as John brings in coffee from the kitchen. More silence follows until Mycroft finally deems it appropriate to speak up.

"I have someone on call for you to speak with. I think it would be healthy for you, Sherlock, as you are obviously...disturbed by these recent events." Mycroft clasps his hands together and waits for an answer that even John knows won't come.

It's only when Sherlock's body starts to noticeably shake that John hands Mycroft his umbrella and asks him to leave. The older man doesn't object, bids he and Sherlock a good night, leaving as swiftly as he had come in.

John hurries back to the sofa and falls into the cushion beside his flatmate, once again shoulder to shoulder and still refusing to make eye contact. A few minutes later, Sherlock is no longer shaking and John turns on the television.

-x-

Two days later John arrives home to find Sherlock standing before an open window in the flat, barely dressed and freezing.

"The c-cold...is sti-stimulating," Sherlock explains through chattering teeth while John says not a word. He drapes his own jacket around Sherlock's shoulders and guides him to the sofa, where he wraps him even tighter under a duvet stolen from John's own bed.

John's mind races, flashing between anger and concern, though concern wins out in the end. He sits down, debating whether or not to call Mycroft, when Sherlock is suddenly almost on top of him, shoulder against his (again) with their heads almost touching.

"He smelled like coffee. Threatened to shoot you in your bedroom, right under my nose. Nothing I could do to stop it," Sherlock whispers hoarsely, a violent shudder running up the length of his body.

-x-

One day later during Mycroft's next visit, John makes tea. Sherlock doesn't shake, but again remains silent.

-x-

They had found Sherlock in an office building that was undergoing construction with the help of Mycroft and his many, seemingly disposable, contacts. It had been two weeks.

"There are bruises. Nothing's broken, but I think he's just shut down." Detective Inspector Lestrade filled John in on the details upon entering the building since John had been minutes behind in the slowest cab in London. He listened, never looking away from his flatmate, who stared glassy-eyed at the ground in front of him from the back of an ambulance. Mycroft stood beside him, speaking low into Sherlock's ear while John waited impatiently, refusing to interrupt until Sherlock looked up and caught his gaze.

Everything fell apart as John rushed over, pushing through everyone who stood between him and his dearest friend. John reached out and grabbed Sherlock's hand, held it tight, hearing the rush of breath escape his friend's lips.

"John," Mycroft said warmly, tipping his head slightly and walking off when John nodded in return.

"Thank you," Sherlock whispered so softly that John wasn't sure if he imagined it.

-x-

Three nights after Mycroft's second visit, John has trouble sleeping. There is an ache in the pit of his stomach as if he knows something is wrong. Not one to ignore such instincts, John slips out of bed and down the stairs where he finds Sherlock pacing quietly back and forth the length of the sitting room.

"Can't sleep," Sherlock says plainly.

John sits on the couch and flips on the television. "Neither can I," he shrugs. Sherlock stops his pacing, moving swiftly beside John with a sharp breath and an audible gulp. A few minutes pass.

"I lie there, in my bed, but it feels wrong. I'll think until I can't breathe because I think of you not breathing." The words come out quickly. John can feel the tension rise off Sherlock's body. They sit while John flips through channels, then he reaches over and squeezes Sherlock's knee reassuringly.

He settles on a late night talk show rerun, pointing, "This okay with you?"

Sherlock, shoulder against John's, nods. "Yeah, s'good."

-x-

John sits in his armchair while Sherlock dozes on the sofa every night after that for a long time. Eventually he will pull down extra sheets and duvets and spread them on the floor. He's used to sleeping on the ground, anyway.

-x-

A week after Mycroft's fourth visit (in which Sherlock finally spoke up. "No," was all he said, but it's kept Mycroft from visiting since.), Sherlock and John sit in a small cafe discussing an old case. The food is brought over, also bringing silence as John hasn't eaten since the morning before. Sherlock looks uneasy.

"You want some? You really should eat something," John says between bites.

"No," Sherlock answers darkly. "He made eggs every bloody morning. Told me he would crack your skull just as easily as he cracked them."

John doesn't finish, claiming the food has made him ill. Later, while shopping for groceries, John skips the eggs.

He will learn some new recipes.

-x-

When John steps into their flat the next night, he sees Sherlock standing once again in front of the open window, barely clothed.

"The hell, Sherlock!" John cries, trying to pry him away, but Sherlock resists.

"G-get off me! St-stop!" He rolls his arms, flattening himself in front of the freezing air whipping into the room and shivers from head to toe.

Cursing, John looks around quickly. He starts a roaring fire and grabs his duvet from the couch. "Sherlock," he says apprehensively to his wildly shaking flatmate. "Sherlock, you can either stand here and freeze to death, or you can come bundle under this while I make you some hot tea." John's voice is calm. Not even a minute later, Sherlock is wrapped up on the sofa while John tends to the kettle.

-x-

Four hours later, it was stifling inside 221B Baker Street, but John leaves the fire burning. Sherlock had mentioned his captor kept the temperature quite cold as he described how he could lock John inside a meat locker where he could slowly freeze to death.

"Why do you keep doing this?" Sherlock asks quite unexpectedly. John is startled, but regains his composure fairly quickly.

"Doing what?"

Sherlock motions around the flat. "This. All of this."

John shrugged. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"You've changed everything," Sherlock snaps. "You like coffee after work but you threw it all out. You tossed all of your green clothing. You're sweating right now because it's practically summer inside this flat and yet you won't turn down the fire. Even your eating habits have changed."

John has been waiting for this. "Would you prefer I stopped?"

"I—," Sherlock starts, breathing heavily. "I just want to know why—why you did."

With a sigh, John sits beside his friend, shoulder against his, finally making full eye contact. "Because you're my friend." And I'm obviously yours, considering the state you're in, though John doesn't mention that.

They sit together for a while, listening to the sound of the fire crackling. Sherlock shakes his head slowly, breaking the silence. "I'm not sure why I told you what I did." He looks unsure.

"I'm glad you did," John says gently. "I know you would have done the same for me in your own...unique way."

"I suppose," Sherlock mutters, scratching his nose, then adds, "This man threatened your life in the most horrifying ways and yet you took no notice of it, instead putting more effort into modifying your diet and sleeping on the floor every night."

John takes a deep breath, smiling. "Yes, it seems that's right, doesn't it?"

For the first time in over a month, Sherlock genuinely smiles back.