A/N- Part Seven! Here at last! For the longest time I was calling it that- part seven. Probably why it took so long, lol. Well, thanks to anyone who waited for this, or gets even a tiny bit excited for this final part! You rock! ;D And thanks so much for all your views and reviews through the previous six parts! You keep me going!
Here to Stay
Though his opening door makes hardly a noise, John is well aware of it. An aching head causes his ears to be extra sensitive, and he's been alone for so long that the small sound almost startles him. Sherlock came home only last night, after all.
John glances at the clock on his left bedside table before turning slowly over to see his friend. 7:08 is hardly sleeping in yet- but it is late, and Sherlock knows this. The man basically deletes the sun yet considers John's schedule to be worth the mental space it takes to remember. What's more, he's dragged his lazy backside out of bed to discover why the doctor isn't about his usual routine. That's what really impresses John.
He stands half in the doorway now, wearing the old blue dressing gown over pajamas just as he used to this time of day, with an expression of curiosity that John also remembers well, though it was less common a sight. While the throbbing of his head opposes it, John smiles at his friend, but he doesn't speak- that would really worsen the pain. Indifferent to his silence, Sherlock picks up the prescription bottle of pain medication from the right-hand bedside table. He studies the writing for a moment and sets it back down.
"Bad?" he asks.
"Yeah," John whispers.
Without further ado Sherlock steps out briefly and returns with a glass of water. John worries for just a moment that Sherlock will expect him to take it- or that he'll speak too loudly, unconscious of its effect on John's head.
But this is Sherlock. While he's never experienced a migraine to the doctor's knowledge, he has a perfect understanding of how to handle one. The detective takes a pill out and sits down beside his friend.
"Did you forget it last night?" he asks gently.
"Yeah," John breathes, as Sherlock eases him up off his pillow with strong, careful hands. To be fair, his friend's homecoming could have distracted anyone who was as glad about it as John had been.
After he downs a bit of water with the pill, Sherlock helps him lie back again slowly. Still sitting on the edge of the bed, the detective frowns as if unsure whether to ask a question. John raises his eyebrows, hoping an answer will be within the realm of a brief 'yes' or 'no'.
"Do you want me to go?" Sherlock whispers.
John isn't sure that his friend wouldn't prefer him to say 'yes'- there must be things he'd rather do than sit here and look after the doctor on his first day home- but he can't help wanting Sherlock right here. He answers with a shake of his head- and closes his eyes in answer of the dizziness that follows. He's surprised to feel Sherlock's palm touch the side of his head, but he won't open his eyes until he trusts his vision not to play tricks on him.
"I'll just be a moment," Sherlock tells him.
This time he returns with a book, and takes a moment to ensure that the blind is shut as tight as possible, so that only the dimmest of light remains. Though grateful for it, John wonders how he'll read with the room so dark, but again, this is Sherlock. Even with his vision, though, he's liable to damage his eyes by squinting. John wishes he could air this thought, but Sherlock would probably just throw him some counter-argument anyway.
Just like old times, he thinks with a smile.
Perched on the edge of John's bed, Sherlock reads for what must be a long time. The throbbing in John's head and neck only begins to subside, but he doesn't mind so much, under the circumstances. Though the medicine brings a drowsiness that confuses his thoughts a bit, his mind has been busy all the same. His thoughts no longer hold the fear that they did when Sherlock was missing- or the grief as when John believed he was dead.
Now, rather, he finds himself considering a way to section off part of the refrigerator so that he could just know whether so-and-so bag in the freezer held soup or… anything else.
He tosses ideas around but gives up before he's spent too much thought on this hopeless matter. He would have to actually lock the fridge off- no, that wouldn't work either. The fact is that Sherlock will disregard any boundary John sets- stubborn, invasive smart aleck that he remains.
"Do you need anything?" The gentle, deep voice breaks rather strangely on John's thoughts and he notices that Sherlock has stopped reading to stare down at him in question.
It may always be a difficult thing to separate the scientific side that he usually holds in place from this more human part of him. The latter persona is one he's allowed the doctor to see several times of late, but John doesn't expect it to last. He almost thinks it would take too much getting used to for him to ever enjoy it- but he will appreciate it while it does last.
His hand finds the nook of Sherlock's elbow and rests in it. "Just stay with me?"
It's more of a question than a request because he knows Sherlock could be making himself more useful- by telling the world he isn't dead for one, and explaining that he's not a murderer for a close second. He's probably already planned a method of going about this, or maybe he's still contemplating it.
There's no sign on Sherlock's face to indicate which of these ideas is more accurate, however. As his hand covers John's, a smile touches his face. It's faint, but the doctor could swear to it. Sherlock doesn't have to say anything because that face now does more than answer the initial question- it banishes the ghost of a fear that part of John was still holding onto.
"Done reading?" the doctor murmurs, noticing that Sherlock has marked his page and closed the book.
"For now," he answers.
"…Come here," John whispers, patting the part of the bed just beside him. "Just… lie down," he explains when his friend looks uncertain.
Sherlock's momentary pause is too brief to be called hesitation, but he doesn't meet John's eyes; he simply does as asked, settling close in what small space there is between John and the edge.
It's too close for his comfort. John's aware of that, but for his own part, he finds the proximity relaxing- and the detective did want him to be able to sleep. Without considering the action, he slips his right hand into Sherlock's left. A slight pressure responds to his own grip, but it's the only response. Perhaps John shouldn't think anything of that, but his biggest mistakes in Sherlock's opinion always involve the ignoring of apparently small matters.
"Do you mind?" he asks, frowning to himself.
"…No," Sherlock says, squeezing his hand more firmly this time, as if just acknowledging the fact himself. While still not what could be called comfortable, Sherlock is content right here. Perhaps he's needed the closeness as badly as John, though of course he wouldn't have been the one to initiate it.
When Sherlock takes hold of the doctor's other hand, John becomes suddenly aware that he was feeling his friend's pulse. He hadn't noticed himself doing that, and blames his unwarranted action on the medication. He can't regret being caught at it though as Sherlock places John's hand over his own chest, so that he'll feel the stronger beat there.
"I'm here to stay this time, John," Sherlock assures him.
The deep, steady thump of his friend's heart is reassuring, and finally John feels that he can sleep. He smiles to himself. "You are," he agrees.
He knows that in all likelihood, another twenty-four hours will find him fed up with his friend's idiosyncrasies. While for now he'll spend the rest of the day glad of Sherlock's kinder side, John imagines he'll spend his life unraveling the enigma that is his friend.
Of course, Sherlock is the detective and there will never be any doubt concerning the superiority of his skills. But the puzzle that John brings together, piece by piece, day by day, is the trickiest of them all- and if there's one thing that he and Sherlock have always agreed on, it's that the oddest cases are the ones most worthwhile.
A/N- Thanks in advance for your reviews! ;D You make me very happy!