John couldn't believe how tired he was.
He had thought he was exhausted when this day began but, no, apparently that sense of fatigue had been an amateur, a precursor to the truly masterful exhaustion that gripped his entire body. How had a simple day off from work, from Sherlock, ended up being so bloody busy?
Not that he hadn't enjoyed every minute. Right up until this last hour, anyway, when the need for a proper police statement had finally caught up with him. Not even Lestrade could excuse him from an altercation in Jenkins Pharmaceuticals headquarters.
And so he had missed the last bit of sunshine for the day. He had barely caught a hint of what looked like it had been a remarkable sunset. (Not only had he been busy talking to the police, but Jenkins' office windows faced South, not West.)
He couldn't really complain, though. He'd had a good run before real life had caught up to him.
And he really had enjoyed himself.
Except … he really was tired.
He groaned as he dragged himself out of the back of Jenkin's limo (it was the least he could do, the man had said). The day might have been mentally refreshing, but that didn't help the tired muscles. Who knew that gentle strolling through a day could be as tiring as running after criminals?
Sherlock reached out a hand, but John ignored it as he pushed himself to his feet. "I should have gone to work, after all. I'm just as tired as I was this morning. What was I thinking?"
"A question I spent most of the day asking," Sherlock told him as he moved to open the door. "You have the oddest notions of a relaxing day, John."
John grinned up at him. "What? Chasing criminals isn't relaxing?"
"Don't be silly. I meant this odd fixation you've had all day for sitting in the sun. We're Londoners, John. We don't 'do' sunshine."
"Speak for yourself, Sherlock. I spent years in a desert, remember?" John settled contently into the familiar banter as Sherlock opened the door and went bounding up the stairs. Where did the man get his energy? John just shook his head and started for the stairs. Then he paused, nose twitching, before running up himself, taking two steps at a time.
Their table was spread with multiple takeaway boxes from Angelo's, plates and silver at the ready. It all smelled amazing, and reminded John just how long it had been since that quick sandwich in the park.
He looked at Sherlock in amazement. "Was this you?"
Sherlock didn't pause as he took off his coat, but just nodded. "You've been so busy, you've barely had time to stop to eat. You must be starving by now."
John just stood there, staring, until Sherlock reached for his coat and pulled it from his shoulders, giving him a nudge toward the table. "I had extra time while you were making your statement for Lestrade, so I called Angelo. I feel it was partly my fault you left without your usual breakfast this morning, and wanted to make it up to you"
Sitting at the table, John opened one of the takeaway boxes and peered inside, unable to prevent a luxurious inhale at the aroma of Angelo's superlative cuisine. "Well, Sherlock, that was … this looks amazing. Thank you. You're going to eat, too?"
To his relief, Sherlock nodded and sat across from him. "I did just solve a case, after all."
"The Matthews case," John said as he took his first bite of chicken cacciatore and heaved a blissful sigh.
"No, the Watson case," Sherlock corrected him, dishing food onto his plate. "It was quite the satisfying mystery—relaxing, even, after the stresses of the Matthews case. Just the thing to refresh the senses. We should really do this again."
John felt his brow crinkling as he looked across the (thankfully candle-free) table at his flatmate. "Again? I thought you were offended I was out, inadvertently solving crimes without you."
Sherlock nodded the smallest bit, as if agreeing without wanting to agree. "That was when I thought you were leaving."
"Wait. What, leaving?"
"Mmm. When you went to Heathrow without a word … well, that's what normal people do at airports, John. They fly away somewhere."
John put down his fork. "But my passport was here, Sherlock. Where could I have gone? And without my wallet?"
Sherlock was shredding a piece of garlic bread. "But I didn't know that. I didn't find out you were at Heathrow until after I've left the flat, so youcould have had your passport. And your wallet was so suspiciously empty … I thought you'd moved the money to somewhere more useful so I wouldn't notice."
John absorbed this for a moment, noting the wistful expression lurking behind Sherlock's purposely steady gaze. "I would never do that, Sherlock. Believe me, if I'm ever going to leave—for real, for good—I'll tell you, I promise. Not that that's going to happen. And my wallet being empty … well, we covered that. It's why normal blokes like me need jobs, after all."
Sherlock mumbled something as he took a bite of lasagna. John had to ask him twice before he finally said clearly, "You are not normal."
He couldn't help the chuckle. "Compared to you, everyone's normal, Sherlock."
Sherlock set his own fork down and glared at John. Actually glared at him. "Don't be ridiculous, John. I am well aware of the disgustingly mundane tendencies of the British population at large. I am also aware of my own intelligence, and ask that you not insult it by trying to imply you are anything like all those … people … I saw today, traveling in herds like sheep, looking where they were pointed, taking photos because they weren't bright enough to remember anything without visual aids. I'm quite sure none of them solved any crimes today, much less three of such magnitude."
John gave a little half smile and reached for the garlic bread. "I don't think I can take credit for that last one, Sherlock. I just did the grunt work."
"After helping weed out several security weaknesses for Jenkins," Sherlock said, his voice insistent. "You underestimate yourself, John, and I wish you wouldn't."
John looked down at his plate, pushing bits of ravioli back and forth with his knife as he tried to think of a response. Sherlock couldn't have meant that to sound so much like … a compliment, could he? He was grateful to know that Sherlock considered him a step above the so-called 'normal' people, but that didn't make him special, not really. Honestly, he hadn't done anything that unusual, even if the crimes had ended up linked—it's not like he had known that. He wasn't Sherlock Holmes, after all.
When the silence had lengthened too much, he glanced back up to find himself pinned by Sherlock's gaze—something he was quite used to, but which felt odd just now, in the midst of this particular conversation. "I wasn't joking earlier when I mentioned your new fans, John. You seem to acquire them wherever you go—even when I am barely tolerated. No, no, I know that's true and it has long since ceased to worry me. But Lestrade spoke of you with respect and almost affection today, as did Mycroft. You are quite extraordinary. The fact that your idea of relaxation is to help people? Quite extraordinary. I sometimes forget. I'm sorry."
John was floored. Sherlock had just apologized to him? Talk about extraordinary behavior. The moment stretched out until John gave an awkward little nod. "It's not a big deal, but … thank you." He looked back at his plate and took another mouthful. "And thank you for this. It's heavenly … and I should know, being reminded of the stars in the heavens just this afternoon."
Sherlock scoffed. "Please. If you saw five minutes of that presentation, I'll eat this entire dish of lasagna. You were asleep before it had even begun."
"No, not quite that fast," John said, laughing. "I was awake long enough to hear Jupiter playing and to remember shooting at the Golem before I drifted off. It was very soothing. I should go back some time when I can actually stay awake—it would have been interesting."
"Oh, please. The only thing the stars are actually good for are navigating, and that's practically impossible in London, so why bother?"
John spooned some sautéed spinach to his plate. "I know this will come as a shock, but there's a world outside London."
Sherlock just waved his hand. "Boring. This is the place to be, John."
He really couldn't think of anything to say with that and just nodded—because Sherlock was right. There was no place that he'd rather be.
"I mean it, though."
"What's that, Sherlock?"
"We should do this again? Take a day off and see how many crimes we can find."
John just laughed. "That's not a day off, Sherlock, that's just trolling for more work. A day off is supposed to be relaxing, filled with things you don't normally get to do, things you enjoy."
"Like looking at planes?" Sherlock's voice was sly.
"If that's what you like," John said imperturbably. "Or a planetarium, a park, a sail … something different, something fun."
Sherlock bobbed his head. "Fine, we'll do that then."
"What?" John felt he'd missed something.
"You'll take a day off and I'll try to figure out what you're doing. It was more challenging than I'd expected, you know. I kept thinking you had a purpose to where you were going but couldn't deduce it—it wasn't until I realized that your entire goal was recreation" (he said it like it was a dirty word) "That I was able to find you. So, we should do that again. With your attention span, who knows where you'll turn up?"
John couldn't hide his smile. "I'm pretty sure there was a compliment in there somewhere."
"Of course there was, John. Besides, with Jenkin's check, it's not like you need to go back to the surgery any time soon," Sherlock said calmly. "Are you going to eat any more of that salad?"
They ate in companionship for a while and then John opened the last container and let out a small moan. "Angelo's homemade cannolli. Oh God, I'm in heaven."
He handed one to Sherlock and then headed to the door. "Where are you going?"
"Mrs. Hudson loves these. I thought I'd ask her to join us for dessert."
"She'll insist on cleaning up," Sherlock grumbled, but he was clearing away Styrofoam boxes as he did, making room. "Here, I'll go get her. You start the tea. And later, you can find something mindless and pointless like James Bond on the telly, just to cap off your day."
"Oi, James Bond is not pointless, Sherlock!" But his flatmate was already gone, charging down the stairs. John filled the kettle and just smiled. Exhausted though he was, Sherlock was right.
He needed to play hooky more often.
Hope you all had as much fun with this as I did!