Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Story has light Johnlock, but is mostly just fun snippyness.
You might be able to tell, but the riddles are inspired by The Hobbit. John got his riddling skills from being Bilbo Baggins in another life!
John was having a pretty rotten couple of months. See, it started with a case, as everything did in John's life now. First off, it was one of the many cases where Sherlock insisted that eating and sleeping were only of second rate importance compared to what they were working on. It had been a full week since John ate an actual meal or slept more than an hour at a time. He was exhausted, almost to the point of hallucinations, and so hungry it was making him nauseous and dizzy.
So he and Sherlock found themselves, as they often did, running through London, chasing some criminal. (John wondered quite frequently whether or not he was mad, chasing dangerous characters as a hobby with no pay with a complete lunatic like Sherlock Holmes. Probably he was, but hey, it never got boring.)
But anyway, they were running. They had to climb a fence. John was doing quite well, considering his deteriorated mental/physical state. He had gotten to the top…
And then he fell off. Landed wrong on his left leg. He heard the crack himself as he fell—well, it sounded a little more like a tearing, but it was a bone in his leg that made the sound either way. He groaned and tried to get up, but to no avail. He looked up to Sherlock, who hadn't looked back to John. He was still running. John didn't bother to call to him.
He rolled up his trousers to look at his leg. Well, no blood, so it wasn't a complex fracture. He was almost positive it was his tibia that broke. Maybe a spiral fracture, from the way he fell on it and the sound it made when it broke. Actually, his wrist wasn't feeling great either, but it wasn't broken, he could tell that much.
He almost laughed at himself. Even injured in an alley, he was still a doctor.
That was when he heard Sherlock call, "John?"
John grunted and rolled his eyes, not bothering to respond.
"John?" Sherlock called again, and John was surprised when he could hear him coming back this way. Sherlock was actually looking for him? Well that was different.
Sherlock stood above John, looking down at the leg John was holding.
And then Sherlock began to laugh.
Sherlock didn't laugh often, so though John was irritated, he was also a little amazed. John liked Sherlock's laugh—when it wasn't fake, which it wasn't this time. He didn't mention that though. John glared up at him. "How on earth is this funny, Sherlock?"
"Because," Sherlock said with a smirk, "now that limp in your left leg will actually be real!"
John rolled his eyes. "Why don't you shut up and help me up, then?" Then John remembered what they were actually supposed to be doing. "Wait, what about Jorgenson? He's getting away."
"Let him," Sherlock said. "He was easy enough to catch the first time. I guarantee he'll be at the same strip club tomorrow."
"I won't be up and walking by tomorrow, Sherlock."
Sherlock thought on this a moment. "Well, I'll tell Lestrade the place and maybe Scotland Yard can do their job for once."
"I'm sure they can manage it, Sherlock."
"Then I'll call 999 and get you out to the main street."
John was exactly right about his break in his leg. And Sherlock was actually quite helpful. Well, he went to the hospital with him. Got him a taxi home. Even helped him up the stairs and to the sofa.
And then he went over to his microscope and worked on some experiment.
John was going to be in a cast for four months, and he was pretty much alone. Mrs Hudson was helping a little, but she couldn't do everything. So he'd spent the first two months hobbling around, stupidly helpless with his crutches, doing the shopping and cleaning and things, with Sherlock going about his business.
So, because of this, John was shocked when he got the text from Sherlock.
Want me to pick up a takeaway? – SH
He blinked down at his mobile for a moment.
You want to pick up food? – JW
It's not like I'm incapable. And you are, with that bum leg. – SH
Sure seems like you're incapable, with how often you do it, John thought dryly. And apparently he only just noticed John's broken leg after two months.
You don't even eat. – JW
I'm in between cases. I suppose I can waste a little time digesting. Besides, my stomach keeps obnoxiously growling, which is admittedly distracting. – SH
John rolled his eyes.
Chinese then. – JW
John thought he was pushing his luck, but then he remembered something.
Out of milk too. If you could bother yourself to get some. – JW
Sherlock didn't respond, so John thought that he was just ignoring the message, but then Sherlock came in the door and was carrying both a bag of Chinese from down the street and some milk.
"Wow. You actually did it," John muttered.
"Believe it or not, John, I know how to shop for food."
"No, Sherlock, I don't believe it, actually."
"I did live without you for most of my life, you know."
"Yeah, and I have absolutely no idea how you survived without me."
There was a long silence, as Sherlock took out the takeaway and put the milk in the fridge next to the jar of eyeballs. Then Sherlock said, very quietly and with his eyes locked with John's, "Neither do I."
John was just able to keep his mouth from falling open. This wasn't the first time something like this had happened, but it had never been quite as obvious before. It was more things John had to read into before, like when Sherlock would every once in a while help John with something, just like tonight, with no explanation. Or when John would catch him staring occasionally. Just little things. But this time, it was real words, something John couldn't have been imagining.
And, just like every other time, it made John's stomach do flips and wonder what exactly had possessed Sherlock to do such a thing. It flattered him. Which maybe was silly, but it was hard to get the affection of Sherlock Holmes. To receive it was somewhat of an honour.
"Really?" John asked.
Sherlock was so convincing that he half thought Sherlock really didn't know what he was talking about.
"Oh, whatever," John muttered, struggling to get up while reaching for his crutches so he could go over to the table.
Sherlock came over and lifted him by the elbows, and then grabbed his crutches and handed them over. John gaped up at him.
"Sherlock, what is with you today?"
Sherlock rolled his eyes. "Only trying to help."
"Which for you is a big deal."
"Don't get used to it," Sherlock muttered, and then went over to the table. "Here," he added curtly, handing John his food.
"You remembered what I order," John added.
"Are you going to stop being astounded at everything I do any time soon?" Sherlock mumbled. Sherlock almost seemed… self-conscious. But Sherlock Holmes doesn't get self-conscious… right?
They ate in silence, and then John opened up one of the fortune cookies. John liked this place because instead of having fortunes inside, they had riddles, and he always loved riddles.
Sherlock was about to throw his away, but John snatched it out of his hand. "Hey, I like those."
"The processed fake-Asian pastries?"
John rolled his eyes. "The riddles inside."
"Riddles," he scoffed. "Stupid questions that nobody can figure out unless they've seen the answer on the internet before. Rubbish, I say."
John looked at him curiously. "You can answer them without having seen them before."
"Can not," Sherlock retorted immaturely.
"I'm actually really good at them, Sherlock. Always have been."
John was extremely surprised. Sherlock couldn't do riddles? Oh, this was just rich. Something Sherlock wasn't completely brilliant at! (Well, that had to do with the mind, because he was pretty terrible socially.) It must have been one of those things he deleted from his mind, along with knowing the earth goes around the sun—and not 'round and 'round the garden like a teddy bear.
John opened his and handed the paper to Sherlock. "Read it."
Sherlock rolled his eyes. "Fine." He sighed as if John was paining him greatly, and then read,
"What has roots as nobody sees,
Is taller than trees,
Up, up it goes,
And yet never grows?"
John bit his lip a moment. "A mountain," he replied.
Sherlock flipped over the paper.
"No, it isn't, Sherlock. Riddles are solvable. It's not my fault you deleted it."
Sherlock immediately broke open the next one and took out the paper.
"Voiceless it cries,
John took a minute to think.
"See, you don't know," Sherlock said.
"No, wait," John said. "It's wind."
Sherlock was already waiting on the other side, and as soon as John said it, he looked up. "Have you seen these online?"
"I promise I haven't," John said. "I already told you, I'm good at riddles."
"But you can't solve riddles!"
"I already said, you can!" John said, getting irritated. "Maybe you should un-delete it, Sherlock."
Sherlock looked uncomfortable.
"What?" John said. And then John smiled in comprehension. "Oh, I see. You didn't delete it. You just could never do them, could you?"
Sherlock went over to John's computer, opening it. John didn't ask how he guessed the password this time. Sherlock always could. He got on the internet and John already knew what he was doing.
"It cannot be seen, cannot be felt,
Cannot be heard, cannot be smelt.
It lies behind stars and under hills,
And empty holes it fills.
It comes first and follows after,
Ends life, kills laughter."
John smiled and said only a moment later, "The dark."
"Have you heard that one?"
"No, it was just obvious."
"Obvious!" Sherlock huffed.
John was having quite a lot of fun now. "So you honestly can't do riddles? Never could?"
Sherlock sighed. "No," he mumbled. "Even when I was little. Mycroft was always good at them, but I always said he cheated."
Sherlock was honestly looking down on himself, like being able to solve a riddle was actually important to life. In life or death situations, riddles are never going to save you, not unless it's Gollum threatening you, which is pretty unlikely. What Sherlock did was much more important. Useful.
"Sherlock, you don't have to be good at everything."
"Yes I do," Sherlock snapped. "All I have is my intellect. If I don't have that, then I have nothing."
John pursed his lips, shrugging and getting up. "Maybe. But you have me. If that matters at all."
He and Sherlock met eyes again. John expected him to say something about how that, in fact, didn't matter, but Sherlock wasn't saying anything like that.
"I'm glad you're in my life, John," Sherlock finally said.
"Well, you're interesting. I never get bored."
John smiled, because that's what he often thought when he wondered why he lived with Sherlock.
"Find one," Sherlock said as soon as John came into the front room the next morning, thrusting the computer in his face while he was still rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
John knew what he meant. "I'm not doing another riddle."
"No, give me one!"
"I thought you couldn't do them."
"I've been studying all night. There's a perfectly simple formula to it. Here, read me one."
John rolled his eyes but found one.
"This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down."
Sherlock smiled and, after barely a second, said, "Time!" So damn proud of himself too. All smug.
"Don't suppose you've seen that one before?" John muttered.
"No. I just figured it out. What you do is…"
John tuned out then. So, the world was back to the way it was supposed to be, with Sherlock knowing more than John about everything. But hey, at least one thing was different. Sherlock was sitting next to John on the settee, close enough that John almost felt like blushing. He could get used to that.
Thanks for reading. If you enjoy Johnlock, I've got more on my profile!