John arrived home from the hospital weary and more than a bit out of sorts. The day had been filled with far more overwrought mothers, screaming children, and cranky patients than he ever wanted to deal with again—and he knew that tomorrow was likely to be more of the same.
"Sherlock, please tell me you don't have any cases tonight," he said as he walked in the door. The last thing he wanted tonight was to dash all over London chasing a homicidal upholsterer or some such nonsense. All he wanted tonight was to pull on a warm sweater, prop his feet up, and drink a massive mug of steaming tea.
To his relief, the lanky detective appeared to be engrossed in a true-crime paperback. "Hmm?" he asked, peering over the top of the book at John. "Oh. No, no case. Or at least, nothing in the last—" his bright eyes flicked up to glance at the clock. "—two hours, forty minutes, and seventeen seconds. Kettle's still hot, if you want tea."
"Good." John tugged off his office coat and draped it over the arm of the couch. Scooping up a green sweater from the pile of clean laundry he had dumped on the coffee table in his rush to leave that morning, he pulled it on, and dropped into his chair with a sigh. Tea could wait until his legs stopped aching.
Sherlock laid the book down on his leg. "Long day?" he asked.
"What was your first clue?"
"Well, my first clue was that you're home twenty minutes later than usual. Other than that, your general demeanor and the fact that you obviously want some tea but can't quite muster the energy to fetch some tell me everything I need to know." There was a smirk in Sherlock's voice, but his face reflected only amusement—not the distaste that his smirks often carried when directed at 'incompetent' officers and other lesser beings.
"Absolutely brilliant, that's what you are," John managed a grin. "Sherlock Holmes, he sees all, he knows all."
"Very funny." Sherlock swept the book from his lap into the floor and stood, unfolding himself from the chair with all the grace of a jungle cat. "Don't get up."
"What?" John craned his neck and watched as Sherlock went into the small kitchen and began preparing a mug of tea—one of John's mugs. "Sherlock, I can make my own tea—"
"Hush. I'm trying to be…" Sherlock's arm waved vaguely as he tried to come up with the appropriate word. "Considerate."
John grinned. "Mrs. Hudson got on to you about the fingernails in the butter dish, didn't she."
Sherlock hummed, which neither confirmed nor denied John's suspicion, but he didn't need to. If it meant that he would get his tea without having to get up, John wasn't about to tease Sherlock about his sudden desire to be 'considerate.'
Sherlock brought in the steaming mug and handed it to John, along with half a package of fudge-striped shortbread biscuits.
"Thanks," John said, gratefully taking the drink and the sweets. He laid the package on his lap and wrapped his fingers around the hot mug, sighing in pleasure as the heat soaked into his hands.
Sherlock stood over him for a moment, a half-analyzing, half-thoughtful-in-a-normal-human-way look on his face. "John, you look positively done in," he said at last.
John sipped his tea and squinted up at his friend through drooping eyelids. "Haven't we already had this discussion?"
Sherlock bent down and retrieved his violin from its resting place behind his armchair. "Let's see if I can't put you to sleep, shall we?"
He lifted the instrument to his shoulder, arranged his long, white fingers on the bridge and the bow, and began to play. John closed his eyes and chewed contentedly on a biscuit, allowing the music to wash over him and sooth away the stress of the work day. He could hear Sherlock moving around as he played, pacing back and forth across the floor in time to the music. John halfway recognized the tune…something from Swan Lake, maybe. But it changed as Sherlock played—probably improvising on the spot, John realized drowsily. It was a mellow, sweet piece, one that trickled from the higher notes down the scale to the lower ones, flipping over itself on the way and sounding the way an beech tree might, if it decided to sing.
John felt his eyes growing heavier and heavier, as his body relaxed and his mind drifted. Sherlock had hardly been playing for more than ten minutes when he saw John's head fell down to rest on his chest.
Sherlock stopped playing and gently pulled the nearly-empty mug from his flatmate's loosening grip before it could spill. He set it on the table nearby, draped a throw-blanket over John's sleeping form, and settled back down into his own chair, recovering his abandoned book from the floor.
When Mrs. Hudson peeked in a few hours later, Sherlock glanced up at her, laid a finger to his lips and nodded at John. The landlady beamed proudly at the consulting detective and gave him a silent wave goodnight. Sherlock smiled—a self-satisfied, but ever-so-slightly bashful quirk of his lips, and returned to his book. Mrs. Hudson vanished back down the stairs, and soon the only noises to be heard in 221b were the soft sounds of a clock ticking and John's low breathing, slow and regular in sleep.
"…It was a September evening, and not yet seven o'clock, but the day had been a dreary one, and a dense drizzly fog lay low upon the great city. Mud-colored clouds drooped sadly over the muddy streets…"