A/N – On this day of thanks I wish to express my gratitude to ScopesMonkey, for everything really. As this is the sequel to "Five" it would probably be beneficial if you have read that. This is basically fluff and another nice break from the intensity of "In the Clearing." To my American friends, Happy Thanksgiving.

Disclaimer - I own nothing and 'tis the season to go into debt.

Forty-Five Minutes

John doesn't think too much of it when he comes home and Sherlock is curled up in his chair with a pad of paper and a pen. He doesn't even find it odd when Sherlock glares at him over the pad of paper and refuses to acknowledge his greeting. It happens. On the long list of oddities he's seen since the detective came into his life, these two don't even rate a second thought. John just set his things down and walks into kitchen to figure out what he's going to make for dinner.

As he opens the cabinet door he's vaguely aware of a sheet of paper being torn off and crumpled up. He's certain that Sherlock has tossed it onto the floor. He rolls his eyes and pulls out a tin of corn. It's the only vegetable Sherlock always consents to eat. The others are what John refers to as "Sherlock mood foods": sometimes he'll eat them, sometimes not.

He hears another sheet of paper being crumpled as he pulls out a pot and pan. He just shakes his head, opens the corn, and gets the leftover chicken out of the refrigerator. He puts that in the pan and starts to heat everything up.

"Do you want salad or broccoli?" he calls, raising his voice just enough so that it can be heard in the living room. He doesn't get an answer.

"Sherlock?" he asks, a little louder.

"I'm not hungry," is the detective's exasperated reply. John flips the chicken and then moves to the living room. The first thing he notices is that the balled up pieces of paper aren't on the floor. He wonders vaguely where Sherlock has put them then smells a hint of smoke. He glances towards the fireplace and sees the remnants of dozens of paper wads. He's momentarily thankful that Sherlock is tossing the fireballs into the fireplace this time and then looks at his husband again. He's still being glared at over the pad of paper. John's gaze doesn't waver; it's been a long time since he was intimidated by the genius's darker moods.

"Salad or broccoli?" he asks again. Grey eyes stare back at him, unblinking. John often wonders what it is that makes Sherlock realise that he isn't going to cave, because after a moment the detective releases dramatic sigh and rolls his eyes.

"Salad if we must, broccoli is repulsive." John nods and turns back towards the kitchen. He smiles once his back is turned; two days ago it was salad that was repulsive and broccoli was the 'only vegetable acceptable for regular consumption'.

John grabs two plates and throws the salad together quickly. He dishes up equal portions of everything. In his current mood, Sherlock will claim John is starving him if his portions are smaller or trying to make him fat if his portions are larger. John doesn't want to hear it. He carries the plates into the living room just as Sherlock rips off another page. He's forced to hold the plate until Sherlock has lit the current ball on fire and tossed it into the fireplace.

"What are you working on?" John asks after several moments. It earns him another glare.

"It does not concern you," Sherlock says, digging his fork under the pile of corn. John doesn't react; instead he takes another bite of his chicken.

The rest of the meal is in silence. John stands and Sherlock extends his arm, offering the plate to him. John notes that for someone who wasn't hungry he ate every bite. The doctor smiles to himself again as he walks into the kitchen to do the cleanup; he'd been hoping for a boring night tonight.

He walks back into the living room to see Sherlock standing at the window, violin in hand, but with no bow. He's not ready to play yet. John lies on the couch, propping his head on the arm, and watches.

He notices that the muscles up the detective's spine and in his neck are tight. He's holding himself awkwardly, he's uncomfortable. He's clearly upset or frustrated about something, but for the life of him, John doesn't know what it is.

"Sherlock," he says after a moment and watches the muscles tense further. He waits and after a moment the detective turns. John is surprised that it isn't a glare again, but genuine concern on the detective's face. "Come here," John adds.

The detective shakes his head, but stops when John holds out a hand. He frowns before taking a step towards the desk then sets the violin down and moves to the couch. Sherlock takes the proffered hand and John gives it a gentle pull. A moment later the detective settles his weight across his husband's smaller frame, burying his face into John's neck.

"Do you want to talk about it?" John asks and is immediately greeted with a shake of the head. The doctor brings his hand up and weaves his fingers into the dark curls – they are oily and need to be washed. It means Sherlock hasn't showered today, so whatever is bothering him has been bothering him all day.

"Are you sure?" he asks again and Sherlock props himself up. His beautiful grey eyes show genuine worry and John moves his hand from Sherlock's curls to cup his jaw.

"Yes," Sherlock says.

John nods. He won't push. Yet.

He runs his thumb over Sherlock's lips and they pucker against the digit. John smiles. Sherlock's features relax at that and he leans down. It's a quick and easy kiss then Sherlock stretches out, burying his face in John's neck again. The doctor rests his fingers on the back of Sherlock's neck and begins to work on the tension there. It only takes a moment for Sherlock to relax and John feels better as he does so.

"I love you," Sherlock whispers, surprising John somewhat. Sherlock certainly doesn't hesitate to say it, but it's rare that it appears in moments like this, for no reason.

"I love you, too," John answers, wrapping his arms around his husband and squeezing him. He turns his head and plants a kiss on the part of forehead he can reach. "Are you sure you don't want to tell me what's bothering you?"

Sherlock nods again and John rolls his eyes.

The scene is much the same when John gets home the next day: Sherlock curled in the chair, glaring at John over the top of the pad of paper. John just shakes his head and sets the bag of Chinese down on the counter.

"I'm not suffering through this all weekend, Sherlock." He looks over his shoulder at his husband and watches his dark eyebrows move from glare to frown. "What's wrong?" Sherlock brings the pad of paper up to cover his face and John rolls his eyes.

He strides back towards the living room and grabs the pad of paper. Sherlock, surprised by the movement, doesn't tighten his grip until the pad is gone. He reaches blindly for it but John manages to hold it out of reach. He holds it out, making sure that Sherlock can see he isn't reading it. He has no real interesting violating Sherlock's privacy, he just doesn't want to deal with sulking all weekend.

"Sherlock," he warns and Sherlock settles back into the chair, crossing his arms in disgust.

"If you're angry at me, tell me why. If you aren't then I don't deserve this attitude. Deal with it or tell me what it is and we'll deal with it together. If not, get over it."

John hands the pad back and Sherlock snatches it. The doctor sighs and moves back towards the kitchen. "Come and get some dinner."

"Not hungry," Sherlock declares. John grabs a plate, spoons some food out of each container and heads through the living room.

"You're an adult, if you don't want to eat, don't." Instead of stopping at the coffee table, John continues through the living room. He sees Sherlock stiffen, realising that John won't be eating in there. John goes into the spare bedroom where there is a desk he can eat at and another telly he can watch.

When he finishes his plate, John leaves it on the desk and spreads out on the bed. It's not as comfortable as the bed upstairs, but it will suffice for watching the football match. He piles the pillows under his head and focuses on the match.

The first half is almost over when he hears a noise at the door. He props himself on his elbows just as a white envelope is pushed under the door. It shoots across the floor and out of sight. John frowns as he sits up, then crawls to the end of the bed and reaches down to pick it up.

His name is scrawled along the back in Sherlock's familiar hand. He rolls over onto his back, setting his feet on the pile of pillows he's just abandoned and slides his finger through the flap to open it.

He pulls out several sheets of paper from the pad of paper Sherlock had been hiding behind for the last two days. He sets the envelope aside and starts to read.


A year ago yesterday you wrote me a letter and I have been trying to compose a reply. It has been difficult for me to settle on a list of five things that adequately represent the affection that I have for you. My frustration over this has now resulted in you being angry. I do not like it when you are angry so I will no longer attempt to follow the formula you created. Instead the following is a list of things that I love about you. I set a time limit for myself of forty-five minutes, because I am certain that the complete composition could take days.

John glances at the rest of that page then flips it over. There are four sheets of paper, each covered with the small print on both sides. Each side contains two columns of listed words or phrases and each page contains a number indicating the correct sequence in which they should be read. John smiles as he grabs a pillow, props himself up, and starts to read.

He chuckles at the first thing listed: nose crinkle at an unpleasant smell.

It's followed by: amused smile, pre-sex smile, post-sex smile, ticklish laugh, Sherlock is funny laugh, Sherlock has done something funny laugh, Sherlock is being an idiot laugh, furrowed brow.

Many of the things do not surprise him, but some of them, like messy hair after sleep and quiet snoring, do.

John reads, noting that jumpers is listed three times, with the red and blue ones being mentioned specifically. Butt in dark jeans and butt in light jeans are also separate, on completely different pages. John is also surprised that Sherlock has included more character than physical traits. Moral character and integrity are both listed on the first page with many others mingled throughout.

John's heart swells as he traces his finger over you love me and you like me. And his heart aches when he reads the last one, you make everything quiet.

He moves back to the first page and reads through the list again. When he's done, he folds the pages up and puts them back in the envelope. He stands, turns the telly off, and quietly exits the room. Sherlock is sitting on the edge of the sofa waiting and John walks right past him. He doesn't miss the momentary look of shock on the detective's face as he heads towards the stairs.

John is just stepping onto the second floor landing when he hears Sherlock starting to climb behind him.

"John?" comes the hesitant voice and John ignores him.

John opens their closet and pulls out their lockbox. He's just taking out the plastic bag that contains the letter he wrote when Sherlock steps in to the room. John silently adds his husband's letter to the bag, seals it, and puts the lockbox away. Sherlock has a curious yet satisfied smile on his face. John closes the distance between them quickly, grabs Sherlock's collar and pulls them both onto the bed.