A/N: Dear Readers,further to your comments on Muppets in Baker Street, the Author would like to inform you that coffee is not the only thing that smarts when you snort it out of your nose in a fit of giggles. Giraffes Sent Me sites tea as having the same effect, and WitchRavenFox suggests mango juice would be equally unpleasant. I was eating a pizza last night, the base of which was made of butter beans (long story), when I was reading your reviews. I can now tell you with complete factual accuracy that butter bean pizza is NOT something you want to eat while you are laughing! So thank you to everyone who made pizza come out of my nose last night, including the incomparable Giraffes Sent Me (you were right about that last sentence), Soapiefan, Insane Liam, Power0girl, WitchRavenFox, Mirith Griffin, Totally Captivated, Seftimiu, and Bookwoman17NerdyMom.
There follows an unexpected addition to the Plato Cycle, of which my stories In Praise of Plato and Muppets in Baker Street are the first two parts. This is becoming about as much of a quartet as HG2G is a trilogy!
Please review, I can't live without you!
He was used to the 3am violin concerts. And the clouds of noxious gasses escaping from experiments just before dawn. He was used to Sherlock's inability to sleep when he was working on a case. But right now, John was getting worried.
The hardest crimes to solve are the random ones. Patterns are what detectives use to zero in on the perpetrators. The accumulation of data was Sherlock's bread and butter. But a random crime has no pattern, no reason, nothing that is obvious to even the most studied eye, at least without a successive offense to create a pattern, which is why Sherlock loved serial killers so much. This one was the most random of all, an abduction with no rhyme or reason. A girl had simply disappeared off the street and Sherlock was adamant that he would solve it, whatever it took.
He was well into his sixth night without sleep. He had barely spoken for the last four days. John had managed to force a few spoonfuls of soup down him yesterday, but that wasn't going to sustain him. His body must be well into famine mode by now, feeding off its own tissue, eating itself alive.
John was watching the love of his life from the living room doorway, knowing Sherlock was way past being able to register his presence.
'You do realise that prolonged sleep deprivation is a recognised mode of torture,' he said.
Sherlock jumped. He had been shuffling sheets of paper on the table. John could tell that he was barely able to see what was on them. His eyes just wouldn't focus any more.
'People go mad from lack of sleep, Sherlock,' he added. 'It causes severe mental damage. Intellectual damage. Do you want to impair your brain?'
''Simposs'ble,' Sherlock grunted, his eyes sliding over the pages. ''Sgot t' b' here somewhere.'
John went over and laid a hand gently on his love's shoulder. Sherlock's head slipped forward and then jerked back up suddenly. He was at the end of his resources, John realised. Dead on his feet.
'Oh, love, please, you can't go on like this.'
Sherlock attempted to brush his hand away. ''Sperfec'ly fine. Got t' kee' g'ing. Got t' fin' the answer. 'S somewhere here, mus' be.'
He was leaning forward at an ever more acute angle.
'Snuh,' he said, with his usual erudition.
John bent down and examined his face closely. The detective's eyelids were sagging, his jaw beginning to slacken. He cupped Sherlock's cheek gently in his palm and turned his face up to the light. Sherlock screwed up his bloodshot eyes and wrinkled his nose.
''M perfec'ly fine,' he protested.
'Right, that's it. Doctor's orders. Bed. Now.'
John pulled the gangly frame up. On his feet, Sherlock swayed and fell heavily against him.
'Do I have to do everything myself?' John growled under his breath.
'Piggy piggy piggy Miss Piggy,' muttered Sherlock, his cheek crushed into an unsightly shape on John's neck by the weight of his head.
John managed to manhandle him so that he had one arm around his shoulder, and then he began to ease Sherlock towards the door.
'Noooooo, got to… got to… got to….'
'Sherlock, I'm putting you to bed.'
Sherlock twisted in his arms, flung his hands over John's shoulder and strained to reach the desk again. It was like trying to hold onto a soapy ferret.
'Mus' get the…'
'Oh, no you don't, you bugger,' John said and gave up. There was no way to do this other than brute strength, he realised. Normally, Sherlock's height gave him an advantage over John in a fair fight, but this wasn't fair, and John had additional skills he could call upon, not least of which was phenomenal hidden strength and a low centre of gravity. So he bent down, applied his shoulder to Sherlock's abdomen, wrapped his arms around the skinny waist. And lifted.
Sherlock kicked ineffectually.
'Ain't gonna do you no good at all, mate,' John growled, hefting the big man on his one good shoulder.
'Snuh,' Sherlock wailed, trying to reach the papers. John wasn't having it. Gritting his teeth, he began to plod across the floor, planting one foot carefully in front of the other, straining against the weight on his back.
'Nonononono,' Sherlock protested.
'This isn't open to debate, smart arse,' John croaked.
When he got to the landing, there was a major decision to be made. It would be easy to just flop Sherlock onto his own bed and leave him there, but he could guarantee that, if not immediately, then soon enough, Sherlock would be flailing himself out of bed and struggling back into the living room again. There was only one way to guarantee he got a decent night's sleep, and that was to make him. Which meant either tying him to the bedstead, or bunking up beside him in order to head off any escape attempts when they occurred. John looked up the stairs, trying to work out whether he could get up them with the lanky detective on his back, and without giving himself a hernia. Hmmm. Probably not. Sherlock's bed then.
He didn't like Sherlock's room. It had a dungeon air about it, dark walls and a solid bedstead of dark wood – no good for tying an uncooperative detective up, that bedstead. No, if either of them were going to get any sleep tonight, he had to brave it and share the bed, but he had slept in far worse places in his time.
He kicked open the door and plodded steadily through, focusing on the mattress in front of him. The duvet was rolled back, crumpled. Easy enough to dump the dead weight of a six foot man onto, though it defied John's wits to work out how Sherlock could bear to leave his bed unmade for nearly six days when he had not slept in it. (John was naturally tidy – he'd had to be, growing up in a small three bedroomed semi-detached house in Woking with a volatile sister into the bargain – but it was a trait that the army had hardened into what could only be called a religious tenet.) On this occasion, he was glad of his love's untidy nature because it meant he didn't have to juggle an almost catatonic detective and a duvet at the same time. He heaved Sherlock forward and bent down so that he could unroll the long body onto the mattress. Sherlock flopped back, his arms falling out from his sides, and lay there, inert. His eyes rolled under half-closed lids, the whites showing, and then he began to snore.
'Great,' John puffed, putting his hands on his hips in an attempt to regain his breath. 'Wonderful. Now what the fuck am I going to do with you?'
He went back into the living room and switched all the lights off, shutting up the flat for the night. When he came back, Sherlock was still lying there, spread-eagled. He put the bedside lamp on and sat down so that he could prize the boat-sized shoes off his love's feet. It took some see-sawing with the heels to release them. It felt a bit like he was shoeing a horse.
And it was only then that it occurred to him that if Sherlock had not slept for five nights (this being his sixth) then it was also possible that he had not washed either, and therefore probably had not changed his clothes. Or at least his socks. Socks were not usually a priority when Sherlock was deep in thinking mode. While Sherlock was normally highly fastidious about personal hygiene, when he was working, everything that was not part of the case often went completely to pot.
It was John's turn to wrinkle his nose.
'You filthy bastard,' he muttered, and peeled off the offending socks. It was on this basis that he decided not to divest his beloved of any more garments. If he was going to have to share a bed with him, discretion was definitely the better part of valour. Especially as John always showered before bed, and tonight smelt like oranges and mangoes (his favourite shower gels were always fruity 'flavours', as he called them.) He just had to hope that his own personal fragrance would drown out Sherlock's currently rather more earthy odour.
He heaved the detective's stilt-like legs onto the bed, and tugged the duvet over him. Then padded around to the other side and got in. He had to shove Sherlock over quite a bit to make space for himself, but he managed it in the end.
It was as he reached across Sherlock's sleeping form to switch out the light that he stopped.
His eyelashes quivered on his sculpted cheekbones. In the light from the lamp, his skin had an unearthly gleam. Yes, he looked drawn and exhausted, dark shadows under his eyes, his cheeks even more hollow than usual. But at this moment, John had never been more struck by this man's surreal beauty.
He bent his head down and ghosted a kiss on those voluptuously curved lips.
'Mmm,' Sherlock murmured.
John switched out the light.
Sherlock's voice, deep as midnight velvet, close to his ear. John froze.
'What's wrong?' he breathed.
'I've just got comfortable.'
John let go of every muscle he had been holding in catlike readiness, and huffed. 'Fuck! You scared me half to death, you stupid arse! Don't do that!'
He opened his eyes and realised he was in Sherlock's bed. With Sherlock wrapped around him.
'You're so warm,' the detective murmured happily. 'Mmmmmm.'
Actually, it wasn't too bad, John realised. It was amazing how well their bodies seemed to fit together, almost as if they had both been carved out of a single block of wood. Somehow, Sherlock's bony hip fitted around the curve of John's buttock, his own shoulder blades into the hollow of Sherlock's chest. Long, sinuous arms stretched around John's torso, fingers splaying out on the middle of his belly. Sherlock was spooning him.
And it felt good.
'Are you okay?'
'Wonderful,' Sherlock sighed, and nuzzled the back of his ear. 'You?'
'Fine. Er, I only ask because you definitely weren't alright last night.'
'It's amazing how a good night's sleep can give you a fresh perspective.'
'I know what causes my insomnia.'
John swivelled around in Sherlock's arms. This was major news.
'And that is?'
Sherlock blinked sleepily at him. 'I hate sleeping alone.'
'I don't understand.'
'I've been alone all my life,' he sighed, and repositioned himself, bunting his face under John's chin, so that John had to slip his arm around the bony shoulders and draw him in. 'During the day I can distract myself, but at night… You are never more alone than when you are in bed in the dark.'
John felt his eyes prick.
'So,' he asked hesitantly. 'If we were to share a bed on a regular basis, you might sleep more?'
'I don't think I'd be so afraid to actually get into bed,' Sherlock mused. He stroked a finger down John's exposed throat, spreading pleasant little tremors. 'And if I was in bed, I might sleep. If you were there. And you were sleeping.'
John realised that there was a shy question that Sherlock was not able to ask.
'Would you like it if we were to share a bed on a regular basis? I mean, every night?'
Sherlock lifted his head off the pillow and looked at him, hard. His eyes were searching.
'You'd do that for me?'
John offered his best, reassuring smile. 'Of course. If it meant you slept better. You need your sleep.'
Sherlock blinked and laid his head on John's chest. He was silent for a long time. And then he said, 'yes.'
The last two stories will be published tomorrow and the next day as chapters of a single document with a high rating. If you like the platonic nature of this depiction, I suggest you go back and read the first story, In Praise of Plato, breathe a happy and satisfied sigh, go and make yourself a cup of tea, and forget about looking me up tomorrow. If you want to find out what happens when John takes Sherlock away on a romantic weekend away, then see you back here in the morning...