Author's Note: Well, I've given in. I have far too many ideas for Sherlock nonsense that won't fit into any real story plot. Therefore, a lovely collection of drabble/one-shots. I hope to publish fairly frequently under this title, as these types of little snippets are fun and sweet and easy to pop off. Anyhow, I've never done so before, but I'll take requests for anything you'd like to see - might be a nice challenge for me. I'm open to anything, haha. Anyhow, this is the first and I'm really very fond of it, so do please leave me some nice words in review and we shall be excellent friends indeed. Cheers.
Sherlock Holmes did not sleep often, as a rule. When he did, it was the sleep of the dead. Sherlock's body seemed to get so few precious hours of rest that when it was finally allowed to slow down in the early morning hours, it actually and truly shut down completely. And it could do so anywhere. When Sherlock had finished a case, after three and a half days running on no sleep and hardly a morsel of food, the man could collapse just about anywhere. John Watson had taken to walking closer to his friend than usual on these occasions, fully aware that he might be responsible for catching him.
So on this particular Thursday afternoon, John was only a few inches behind Sherlock as he followed the great man through the winding roads of London. The grand reveal at Scotland Yard had taken place – Sherlock had made sure to make a crack about Anderson's nose and grinned away Donovan's scowl, as was his wont, and so had left in a flurry of highly self-satisfied airs. But the case was over, and the long walk through a dim and rainy city had sapped the adrenaline from his veins. Sherlock's gait was becoming a little slower and his eyelids were drooping dangerously.
The changes were subtle – John Watson was, perhaps, the only one who could have spotted them. But spot them he did, and so he was currently trying to guide his friend's footsteps to the best of his ability by popping up on one side of him, then the other – herding Sherlock down the right paths like a shaggy blonde sheepdog.
"You look absurd, John, stop that," Sherlock mumbled half-heartedly.
"Stop what?" John feigned ignorance, "I don't – what am I doing?"
Sherlock sighed, though it was through a small smile. He pulled the doctor around to face him. Though he meant the gesture to prove his stability, it didn't help that he found himself leaning on his friend, his hands firmly clasped on each of the shorter man's shoulder, feeling off-kilter and slightly dizzy.
"See?" John reprimanded, trying not to let Sherlock's weight land them both on the floor.
"See what?" Sherlock tried to sound angry, but his chin was drooping to his chest even as he said it – the only thing keeping him upright was John's solid shoulders.
John rolled his eyes and pulled Sherlock back around to the side of his body. And so the duo wobbled their way home – Sherlock's long arm cast around John's neck, looking every bit a pair of drunks in the middle of the day.
"Steady on," John mumbled as he heaved the massive weight of his friend up the long – damn long – flight of stairs.
They made it only to the top of the stairs when Sherlock felt his knees buckle beneath him. "Ah," he half-sighed, half-whimpered, "Just here John, this will be fine. Here …"
"Sherlock," John sounded concerned, "Your bedroom's just there – surely we can make it as far as –"
"No," Sherlock shook his head in slow motion, "No no. Just here. The sofa, John, the…" and then he was gone, melted, completely out. John was left to drag his friend's limp body the remaining few feet to the couch. He pushed and prodded and tugged all of Sherlock's absurdly long limbs onto the sofa and into a position that looked relatively comfortable. John knew it didn't matter – Sherlock was practically dead in this state. And yet … the doctor suddenly felt oddly protective. This was the first time they hadn't made it to Sherlock's room (at which point the detective would normally slam the door and take care of himself), and the sofa seemed so very exposed...
John stood back to admire his handy-work, and looked at Sherlock's face, really looked at it, and noticed the expression there. So that was why the detective made sure he was safely secluded within the walls of his own room before dozing – the man was absolutely the picture of innocence. His brow was softened, his mouth was not frowning but almost, almost smiling. His chest rose and fell as soft breezes of air came and went through perfectly parted lips. His cheeks even seemed slightly less than their usual deathly pale under the warm glow of domestic lamp-light. His eyelashes were perfectly still. John wasted a few foolish seconds letting his eyes explore this bizarre and glorious person who was most certainly not the snide and sneering Sherlock Holmes. With his guard down, completely unaware of everything around him. Completely … vulnerable.
John swallowed and quickly went for a blanket.
The good doctor tucked the comforter around his friend with the same gentle touches he might use on a small child. Around the slim shoulders, under the small of the back, around and about the feet.
John sighed unconsciously, and seemed to startle himself with the unexpected sound. His reverie disturbed, John decided to put the kettle on. It had, after all, been a hellish couple of days for him too, and a nice warm cup of tea would do him a world of good before bed.
So John filled the kettle and pulled a cup from the cupboard. Then he peaked his head about to make sure Sherlock was still sleeping soundly.
Yes, right. He was there. Of course he was. Good.
The hiss of the kettle pulled John back to the kitchen. He poured the water, added an ample spoonful of honey. But there was a sound in the living room and John couldn't help but just look once more …
Nope, still asleep. Of course. Silly.
John went back to retrieve his tea and then took it to the living room.
He started in the armchair, of course, with every intention of unwinding with a little afternoon telly. But … even though he knew it wasn't possible, he just couldn't take the chance that the noise might wake the sleeping Sherlock. So then he tried a newspaper. But even the crinkling of the pages seemed like firecrackers in the perfect silence of the room. Not only that, but the light – God, the light was much, much too bright. John hurried to switch off the lamp and was very satisfied when only the pale grey glow of the overcast afternoon remained in the room.
So the telly was too loud, and it was now too dark to read… Well, John would simply sit in silence with his tea, then. Nothing at all the matter with that. Just a man, with his tea, sitting on his living room floor, in the dark, listening to his flatmate's breathing …
Well, John thought to himself, when you put it that way …
It wasn't long before the tea was cold and it was not the London afternoon looking in on doctor and detective, but the London moon. John had fallen asleep just where he'd sat – his head resting on folded arms against the sofa, only centimeters from Sherlock's pale cheek. Their breathing synchronized and their cares drowned in the peace and the starlight.
Mrs. Hudson came up around ten – worried that she hadn't heard so much as a peep from the boys since they'd gotten home. When she walked through the still-open door, she made a little squeak and covered her mouth quickly. There was Sherlock – lovingly wrapped mummy-tight in John's quilt, his face now unconsciously turned towards the doctor's in sleep. And there was John – huddled beside the couch, the arm on which his head rested stretched out towards his friend. He'd kicked the tea in his sleep and it darkened the carpet near to his knees. Mrs. Hudson smiled fondly, put a towel on the spilt tea and a blanket around John's shoulders. The good landlady kissed both her boys on the forehead and let herself out, closing the door soundlessly behind her.
And then the night was at it's darkest and the city was almost completely silent outside their window. John shifted in his sleep – his body protesting against the painful position his mind refused to acknowledge in the depths of sleep. The doctor's foggy brain thought about getting up, moving to his own bed – surely warmer and much, much more comfortable. But then...
In the morning he'd swear it was all a dream, but in that moment – in the predawn place between sleeping and waking – John swore Sherlock must have read his mind, sensed his intention to move, because he heard Sherlock's voice in that moment. Just one word, but what John would later claim to be a dream had seemed crystal clear in the stillness and haze of half-sleep.
Sherlock whispered, "Stay."