Warnings: mentions of past (orally) sexual activities ;) and a bit of rubbing – though not private parts sorry!

Chapter Eleven

The next few days seemed like everything was back to normal. I decided not to mention the thing, whatever it was, happening between us until I received any signs that Sherlock wanted to talk about it. So far I hadn't even got a hint that he was even thinking about it, but I suppose that's understandable. I remembered my first experiences of intimacy – acting on instinct cause by overactive hormones. Sherlock, it appeared, was not affected by hormonally charged sexual desires and frustrations in his youth, or at least he had decided not to act on them. I considered, then, that all of this must be very confusing to Sherlock – I couldn't imagine having all those feelings I had as a teenager affecting me as a grown man and Sherlock always needed to know, especially when it concerned himself. He had always, since the day we met, seemed so sure of himself; he knew himself. Clearly, I wasn't the only one questioning my preconceived knowledge about myself.

Now, I say almost back to normal, because there were subtle – yet noticeable – differences.

As we had no case, Sherlock was engrossing himself in his experiments. He was constantly playing with chemicals and peering through his microscope. Normal behaviour, so far. However, every now and then he would look up and stare at the wall, as if he was looking straight through it and into the distance. This was very un-Sherlockian behaviour; he told me once that once he got started with an experiment he couldn't stop for anything until he had results. After a few minutes he would shake his head with a frown and get on with it, causing me to wonder what was on his mind.

The second oddity was the fact that I kept catching him staring at me. He would always look away immediately if eye contact was made, but there was something there, in his eyes... I couldn't quite place it, probably because I could only catch glimpses of it, but it was intense nonetheless.

Finally, and most worryingly, Sherlock seemed to be getting even less sleep than normal. I would come down in the morning and find him sitting in his armchair with my laptop, in the same position I'd left him in the night before, staring at the screen. I checked the history to see what might be distracting him enough to keep him awake, but the only website listed was my blog – probably from where I'd left it open after editing it.

After a solid week, in which Sherlock had probably survived on 1-2 hours of sleep a night, I'd had enough.

"Sherlock, is everything okay?" I asked, catching him in one of his moments; staring at nothing in particular.

He started slightly, and then looked at me blankly.

"Fine, John, why do you ask?"

"You seem ... distracted."

"Yes. Good. I'm always looking for a distraction when not on a case. Aren't you glad I'm not shooting the wall?" His lips twitched in a vague smile, but his red-rimmed eyes told me he was exhausted. Plus, he was speaking too quickly – diagnosis: hiding something.

"Are you sleeping Sherlock? At all?"

"I..." He looked away. Diagnosis: avoidance.

"Sherlock." I said softly.

"No. I can't. I can't sleep," he said quietly, but his frustration was obvious.

"Less than usual?"

"Sleep is boring but ... necessary. I used to sleep for about four hours on and off. Recently I have been getting maybe an hour, two hours maximum," he explained, gesturing wildly with open hands.

Very large hands...

Stop it John, I thought, clearing my throat of a sudden lump.

"Maybe you just need to unwind. Don't go on the laptop before bed, it stimulates your brain. Take a bath, change your sheets, read a book – a light-hearted one, not about decomposition or anything like that..."

Sherlock considered me briefly before nodding in reluctant agreement. His neck clicked as he did so and he winced, rolling his shoulders.

"Are you in pain?" I asked.

"I just have a knot ... in my shoulder," he said, reaching up to rub his left shoulder with his right hand. He made an odd sort of grunting sound as he round the knot and pressed, and really I shouldn't have found the sound as erotic as I did.

"Here, let me," I said, replacing his hands with my own after trying, and failing, to overcome a sudden urge to touch him. He stiffened briefly but then nodded permission to go ahead. I rubbed his shoulders gently and he positively melted under my ministrations. I could practically feel the week's tension rolling off of him. My thumb found the knot and I pressed firmly until Sherlock let out a moan I had only heard once before – when he had come in my mouth exactly seven days ago. My knees felt weak and I was unable to stop my own moan escaping.

"Er... Sherlock, if you like I can ... ah ... give you a proper massage, after your bath. It would certainly help you to, um ... sleep." I suggested, wanting to touch him again more than anything. "What do you think?"

"I think..." Sherlock began, his voice thicker than normal, "that that is a wonderful idea..."

He stood, then, leaving the room and a few moments later I heard the bath running. I decided to make myself useful by changing the musty sheets on Sherlock's bed to fresh ones from my own cupboard, seeing as I couldn't find where he had kept his clean linens. Then, I searched for some kind of oil I could use. The only thing I could find was some dual-purpose massage lube that Harry had got me as joke when I moved in with Sherlock. I thought he might get the wrong idea if he saw it, so I decided not to let him see the label, lest he felt that I was pressuring him to go further than he wanted to. Images of what I could be using the oil for swamped my mind and I was briefly overcome with lust until a voice cut through the haze in my mind.

"John." Sherlock's voice sounded forced, as if hiding nervousness. I put the oil in my pocket and descended the stairs. Sherlock was standing at the door to his bedroom in a towel that was precariously tied on his slender hips. I offered a reassuring smile to my frightened-looking friend.

"It's alright, Sherlock, I won't hurt you. I won't push you beyond your comfort zone. I'm your friend."

"I know, John. I trust you."

A/N: ahhh there you go! Sorry it's been ages! I have so much revision to do at the moment biiig exams coming up! But got the sudden urge to write this at 11.30pm (UK time) and I think I am in need of one of John's massages now (though he can save the lube for Sherlock) ! Thank you for being patient readers and if you like check out my other Sherlock story though it's a bit neglected – ideas for more chapters would be welcome! I will try my bestest to update soon!