AN: Inspired, of course, by the casting of the Hobbit movie; it occurred to me that their Sherlock characters might find a lot to identify with in their Hobbit characters. ;) This is hopelessly derivative but I sort of like it. And I figured Sherlock would be the best quiet, intense, secretive fanboy...
It's been much too long (two days) since the last case and John has hidden Sherlock's gun. He'll find it in a moment—it's either behind John's dresser or rolled up in a towel with the linens—but right now he can't be bothered to get up off the sofa.
Bored. Bored bored bored bored bored bored.
He doesn't have any experiments to run. Freezer burn invalidated the last one and John said he was sorry but it had certainly looked like bagged gravy to him, and the freezer seemed like a suitable place for it. And Sherlock had asked peevishly what kind of person puts gravy in bags? and John had snapped back about how oh don't tell me I'm supposed to evaluate your actions according to the standard of 'people' now. And so Sherlock was sulking. For the loss of his not-gravy (river water and sloughed flesh emulsification, actually), not for the retort, which was actually a reasonable one.
He doesn't know how John does this, the long, quiet afternoons. Sure, John loves the danger, but as long as they don't come at too great stretches, he seems to like the quiet as well. He knows most ordinary people like the quiet, but somehow he expects John to be different from them now, to not be ordinary. That sounds like he's disappointed, but he's not. More just disoriented. Sherlock rather expects his 'not people' to rub off, but people John remains, with all the strange little habits of people that Sherlock doesn't think he'll ever understand. Like crap telly, and tidying. And fiction, he sneers, catching sight of a little pile of books on the floor that aren't his.
He slides halfway off the sofa in an attempt to stretch out and grab a book off the top without getting up. The Hobbit, it says. He has no idea what a hobbit is. He would be concerned at this apparent hole in his knowledge if it wasn't for the dragon on the cover. He is led to the fair assumption that hobbits are not any more real than dragons, and that is that and it is all he needs to know.
He opens the book.
John comes home from the clinic at his usual time to find Sherlock bunched up on the sofa with The Hobbit propped up against his knees and an expression of extreme concentration wrinkling his eyebrows.
John is run through a rapidfire gamut of emotions, which include wanting to gape, wanting to laugh, wanting to keep very straightfaced and tease Sherlock mercilessly, and wanting to scurry over and see how far he is and demand to know his favorite part so far.
Scurrying is out of the question. Laughing and teasing will almost certainly result in Sherlock putting the book down, and gaping seems to lose its appeal after premeditation. Besides, he is very aware that this morning Sherlock was still sulking about his not-gravy. (John didn't ask what it was. He knows better.) So he simply walks past him into the kitchen and rummages in the cabinets for something for supper.
He tries to come up with something more elaborate than beans on toast (he's a bachelor, it counts as supper) so that he can leave Sherlock alone with the book for as long as possible, but the not-gravy sprung a leak in the freezer and he no longer feels comfortable with anything in there, so he makes up for the time with extra rummaging. He wants to go sit down in his chair to eat it, but he isn't sure that he can trust himself to not just watch Sherlock reading.
"Just put the telly on," comes Sherlock's voice from the sitting room. "It won't bother me and it should distract you sufficiently to keep you from staring, which would bother me."
Right. "Want any supper?"
He goes in, sits down, and puts the telly on. He still sneaks glances at Sherlock all evening, and is aware of Sherlock pointedly ignoring him.
When John rises the next day he finds Sherlock sitting up with apparently the same cup of tea in front of him that John left him with last night, and the book still in his lap. This confuses John for a moment—he knows Sherlock is a quicker reader than that—until it occurs to him that the book is open to an earlier point than it was the night before.
"You're rereading it," he blurts.
"So were you," Sherlock answers without looking up. "You've been reading it for the last few nights, and yet you weren't using a bookmark as you usually do, implying that you were familiar enough with the content that you didn't need reminding what point you'd reached."
"Also that copy is quite old and battered and has my name in the front cover," John smirks.
Sherlock mumbles something that John can't hear, and John goes grinning to the kitchen to make them both a morning cuppa.
"There's not going to be new data to gather the third time you read it," says John from his chair that evening, his new book in his lap now that he's finally given up on getting back his old one.
"I'm not reading it a third time," says Sherlock, slumped comfortably into the sofa, eyes on the page to which he has flipped back. "I'm only reading chapter twelve."
"What's that, then?"
Sherlock finally breaks his gaze from the book for the express purpose of fixing John with a withering look.
"How many times have you reread this book, John?"
"At least once every year since I was fifteen," John answers calmly. Sherlock cocks an eyebrow.
"The book isn't that old."
"Oh, thanks for that! I got a new copy in college because my old one was falling apart. Anyway, all right, I'll remember the chapters next time. What is twelve then, the mountain?"
"Smaug, specifically," Sherlock replies, looking back down at the book. He glances right back up, startled, when John suddenly laughs.
"You would, too!" John is saying. "With the riddle-talk and the posturing and all. You would." Sherlock looks at him closely to determine whether he is mocking, but John's smile is wide and pleased and his eyes are sparkling fondly, deeply amused and, Sherlock believes, disproportionately happy.
"And I just bet Bilbo is your favorite, eh?" Sherlock snipes back. "Dumpy little underestimated ragtag warrior."
"I take exception to 'dumpy,'" John says, but can't seem to stop grinning.
Sherlock grunts and returns to his book.
Once he's reread chapter twelve twice, he checks his phone once for news of a case, and then starts the book from the beginning again.
John sees but says nothing.
When Lestrade finally calls them about a new case, Sherlock leaps up from the sofa like he has a spring beneath him and drops John's precious book carelessly to the ground. John winces and moves it to the table before following him out the door.
It's a murder-burglary, but the police had no idea that anything was taken before Sherlock showed up, since it was so neatly done.
"And the object was taken before the murder occurred," he notes, and John, taking notes, wants to ask him how he knows, but he can tell from the look on Sherlock's face that he shouldn't interrupt. Lestrade apparently doesn't see the look.
"What was taken, though?" he asks.
"Impossible to say now," Sherlock says. "He was very careful. Need more data." He stands there, looking down at the crime scene intensely. "'You have nice manners for a thief and a liar,'" he quotes in a mutter.
John hears him, and suddenly the solemnity of the crime scene is broken by the loud bark of his laughter, not muffled in time by the hand he claps over his mouth. Sherlock slants a look at him that manages to be sheepish and huffy and pleased and aloof all at the same time. Lestrade just stares like he's gone round the bend.
John turns it into an unconvincing cough and doesn't explain to Lestrade. His friend's secret is safe with him.
Sherlock leaves The Hobbit quite alone when they get home that night, and just lies on the sofa with his eyes closed and nicotine patches up his forearm. But John is a better observer than his flatmate gives him credit for, and when he gets up the next morning (to find Sherlock in the same position, asleep) he notices the book is in a slightly different place than it was on the table. He smiles, and lets Sherlock sleep.
They locate the killer and the stolen item two days later (an antique brooch, actually re-stolen from the veritable warehouse of stolen items on a hidden basement level in the same building). John writes it up in his blog as "The Case of the Dragon's Hoard," and waits, clearly expecting a jibe that Sherlock doesn't deliver.
The next evening, when Sherlock comes home from a satisfying, self-congratulatory day of lab work and prodding corpses at the mortuary, he finds John has reclaimed his silly, boring, childish dragon book and is sitting in his chair reading it. "Supper's keeping warm in the oven," he says, not looking up.
Sherlock goes in to see—not that he's hungry—and finds a serviceable but very unimaginative casserole. No thanks. He is about to turn back around when he sees a pile of large new books on the counter. The Lord of the Rings, a set of three in a slipcover (sounds like one of John's hyperdramatic blog titles), and The Silmarillion, which strikes him as a bit of a mouthful. He notes the author, and stands there staring at the stack for a long moment.
Maybe a little bit of casserole, he thinks. He dishes some out onto a plate, puts the books under his other arm, and heads out to the sofa.