Rating/Warnings: Gen, PG, abuse of tea and clocks.
Disclaimer: Not my world or characters.
Summary: John's had worse days, but he's certainly had better.
A/N: In which I vent some accumulated stress and try to reboot my writing brain by depriving John Watson of tea. Not Brit-picked or betaed. Nothing special.
It all started with the alarm clock. Specifically John's alarm clock. Very specifically John's alarm clock that had mysteriously moved from his nightstand to the kitchen table and eviscerated itself by some equally mysterious means during the night.
John pursed his lips at the array of clock-radio innards on the table. Shifted his stocking-clad feet on the cold floor to avoid the hard hopefully-plastic-and-not-something-formerly-alive bits dotting the linoleum, he peered into the sitting room. More bits of John's clock were spread across the coffee table with Sherlock perched on the sofa peering over the chronometric carnage like a vulture looking for a particularly tasty organ.
"Busy," Sherlock muttered, hands steepled.
"Why is my alarm clock in a thousand pieces on the kitchen table?"
"There wasn't enough room for all of it on the coffee table."
John opened his mouth, then closed it, ran a hand down his face and tried again. "My alarm clock. In pieces. Why?"
"Oh! Had to see if the inner circuits matched a timing device on a bomb." Sherlock snatched a pad of graphing paper from the sofa beside him, peered at the bits on the table and added more wiggly lines to a diagram on the pad. "Cold case, Lestrade sent it over. Surprisingly intricate!"
"So you crept into my room while I was sleeping, stole my clock-radio, and sacrificed it for the sake of a case?"
Sherlock cast a sardonic eyebrow at John. "Sacrificed, really, John? There's no need to be melodramatic."
"I needed that alarm to get up in time for work!" John checked the kettle for unsavory objects before filling it.
"You're up in time."
"What time is it?"
"Quarter to eight."
"Christ." John plugged in the kettle and fled up the stairs to get dressed. "I won't have time for a shower!"
"You showered last night." Sherlock's voice carried up the stairwell as John changed faster than he had since leaving Afghanistan.
"Sherlock, I spent most of last night rummaging around in a skip looking for a shoe-"
"A red patent-leather spike-heeled-"
"Shoe!" John stamped his foot into his own shoe, ignoring Sherlock's distant imprecations about precision in describing evidence. "After that, of course I had a shower!"
"There you are then, all set."
"I wanted another before work! At least a shave!" He grabbed a cardigan of the hook on the back of his door and thundered back down the stairs, spinning around the landing corner and back into the kitchen as the kettle clicked off.
Sherlock made a rude noise from his perch on the sofa. "You're fine."
Grumbling, John grabbed a mug from the shelf and a tea bag from the canister, combined them appropriately then poured boiling water into the mug.
With an eloquent eyeroll, Sherlock looked into the kitchen at John. "If you're so concerned, I could come over there and smell you."
"No." John stabbed ferociously at the tea bag with a spoon, trying to speed up the steeping process and vent some aggravation before he had to leave for work. "Thank you, no."
"I've done extensive testing on the tensile strength of the average tea bag and-"
The beleaguered tea bag burst, releasing a spume of tea leaves into John's cup. Black flecks roiled under the surface, flocking like sparrows.
"-they don't hold up well under repeated strain."
John watched the bits of tea and shreds of bag swirl in his tea with a sigh, feeling somewhat like a tea bag.
"Erm. John, you have five minutes to catch-"
"I bloody know, all right?" John dumped the ruined tea into the sink and fled out the door.
The rest of his day wasn't much better. He did get a cup of tea and a shower simultaneously when a fellow commuter dumped her tea on him at the tube station. The woman apologised, but glared daggers at him on the tube as though he'd deliberately incited the tea-bath. John spent a significant part of the ride wondering if he could get away with sucking the tea out of his cardigan.
At the surgery Sarah was away, leaving Katherine in charge. Her opinion of John was already abysmally low; she had been on shift his first day there and he wasn't dating her.
When John showed up to work half an hour late, scruffy and covered in tea, Katherine's lips had pursed like she'd bitten into a lemon to prove it was sour and was smug about being right. He flicked his mobile off, not wanting to attract any more negative attention with so much as a text notification. As it was it seemed that all the exceptionally whiny, contagious, or obstinate patients were directed his way.
John barely got enough of a break between patients to annotate their files, never mind sneaking into the break room for a cup of tea. Lunch was half a bag of crisps and an apple he found in the desk from someone else's interrupted lunch. The apple was withered and the crisps were jalapeno flavoured.
The ride home on the tube was uneventful.
When John got in the door, he could hear Sherlock pacing their sitting room and ranting about rheostats.
"Tea!" he shouted as John closed the door.
"Let me hang up my coat, why don't you?" John muttered, too tired to argue. He trudged up the stairs to the kitchen, developing a tunnel vision that blocked out the remains of his massacred alarm clock still scattered on the kitchen table and focused on the kettle.
Still nothing in it but water, thank god. He topped it up and plugged it in.
That's when he saw the tea canister on the counter from the morning. Lid off, the few remaining tea bags soaked in fishy-smelling oil.
Deep breath. Calm.
"Sherlock? What happened to the tea?"
Sherlock waved, dismissing John's concern. "Minor incident, sardines, it was that or a fire."
John decided it was better for his sanity not to know the details. "So. No tea then?"
Sherlock glanced over sharply. "Didn't you pick up tea on your way home?"
"I didn't know you'd be dousing our entire tea supply in fish oil, did I?"
"I sent you a text."
John rubbed a hand across his eyes. When I die, that's what my bloody headstone will read: 'He sent me a text.' John dumped the oil-soaked tea bags in the bin and set the canister in the sink for washing. "I was at work, I turned my phone off."
"What if there was a case?"
"I was at work. If it was important enough to haul me off work, you'd call in to the surgery or fake leprosy or something."
"And so we have no tea."
John felt his face droop as he stared at the fish-smelling tea canister in the sink. He switched the kettle off, went into the sitting room and collapsed into his chair, staring at the bookshelves in the corner, not really seeing them.
"Mrs. Hudson won't be back until Wednesday," Sherlock stated.
"Speedy's is closed."
"At seven today, yes."
"You'll have to go to Tesco then."
Asking the simple question of why Sherlock couldn't have gone to Tesco for tea himself during his busy day of clock-autopsying and preventing sardine fires wouldn't get John anywhere. It certainly wouldn't get him tea.
Right. Get up, put on coat and shoes, go out... The thought of leaving the flat, interacting with people at the store, not to mention the bloody chip-and-pin machines, was about as appealing as an unexpected sardine fire.
"I just..." John's voice ran out.
Sherlock stopped pacing. "John?"
John rubbed his temples and stood. "I'm going to bed."
"It's only seven thirty."
John trudged up the stairs to his room, toeing off his shoes and turning on his phone. Sixteen new messages, two about tea and the rest about radio frequencies. Sighing, he set the alarm function of the phone, placing it where his sadly departed clock-radio once sat.
It was too much effort to even think of asking Sherlock whether he intended to replace the thing. Tomorrow he'd take it up with him. It had been a wretched day, and John just wanted to sleep and get it over with.
He lay across the bed in his clothes, staring at the ceiling, running through the miseries of the day. The thing that galled him was it was all just annoyance. No pain, no trauma except that done to his clock. He'd certainly had far worse days, hundreds of them, thousands, but the small inconveniences and frustrations had all accumulated to grind him down into this maudlin lump that went to bed at half-seven because there was no tea. He felt quite pathetic.
There was a knock on his door.
He closed his eyes and sighed. "What?
The door swung open and Sherlock came in with two mugs of tea and a packet of biscuits balanced on a tray.
Maybe I did fall asleep, John thought, propping himself up on his elbows. "Tea?"
Sherlock moved John's phone and set the tray down on his bedside table. "I, um. Well, if she were here, Mrs. Hudson would-" he waved a hand at the tray. "But she's not so I took the liberty of acquiring some emergency tea from her flat."
"You broke in."
"Nothing she wouldn't have made for us if she wasn't away. It's not theft, it's..." Sherlock smiled, picking up a mug and offering it to John. "Well I suppose it is theft, but I can't imagine her begrudging us a handful of tea bags and a packet of gingernuts."
"Thanks, Sherlock." The smell of ginger from the biscuits was doing a fantastic job of reminding John that besides not having any tea, he also hadn't actually eaten anything of significance that day.
"It was the least I could do," said Sherlock. "I did viciously murder your alarm clock after all."
John wrapped his hands around his mug and held it under his nose, feeling revitalised from the steam alone. "Did the clock help? On your cold case?"
"Oh, very much."
"Good. At least it died for a good cause."
"Indeed. I'll see about replacing it tomorrow." Sherlock took his own mug of tea from the tray and stopped in the doorway. "There's more tea downstairs if you want more. I borrowed a teapot from Mrs. Hudson as well. I could show you how your former clock makes a rather exquisite bomb timer."
John looked at Sherlock over the rim of his mug. "There are no actual explosives in the flat, are there?"
"While several common household substances could be used to make an explosive device, I haven't done the necessary basic chemistry with any of them today. So, no."
"That's a relief. I suppose."
Sherlock quirked a smile and left, leaving John's door standing open.
John sipped the tea Sherlock had brought him. A little sweeter than he liked, and not quite enough milk, but it was tea. Tension started draining from his shoulders as he sipped.
Gathering his tea mug and the biscuits, John left his room, and heading back downstairs to view the remains of his alarm clock.
- . - . -