Sherlock woke to noises. He reached for his phone.
Half three in the morning.
As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he realised that he felt rested, better than he had since the accident.
It all came flooding back.
John was the source of the noises. And the rest.
Sherlock decided he would try the crutches.
“Did I wake you?” asked John.
“Yes, but no matter.”
“Let me get the chair.”
“I can manage with these,” said Sherlock. With John’s help, he arranged two of the kitchen chairs so that he could sit on one with casted leg propped on the other. His casted arm was on the table.
John was standing at the counter in pants and a sleeveless vest. The only light was the one above the stove and it cast a very flattering glow on his mostly nude figure.
Sherlock dismissed this thought and observed,
“You’ve been up a while.”
Every cupboard door was open, and the contents of the cupboards, minus a few items, were piled on the table.
“Yeah. Couldn’t sleep. By the way, all of that,” John indicated a heap of containers and plastic bags on the far counter, “is organs!”
“Yeah, you can bin them,” said Sherlock regretfully. “They’ve all gone off now.”
John stared, then blinked, then said, “Phew! That went much easier than I thought it would.” He marched across the kitchen and summarily dumped the whole lot in a red plastic bag labeled HAZARDOUS MATERIALS. He tied the bag carefully and sat it in the corner. Then he began to put the boxes and tins and containers on the table back into the cupboards.
Sherlock was acutely aware of his helplessness.
“If I had my hand and my violin, I could play for you.”
“If you had your hand and your violin, you wouldn’t need me.”
Sherlock wasn’t so sure of that, but he said nothing.
John continued, “Why you show me that extraordinary part of yours? The one I’ve not seen.”
“Are you asking me to show off?” inquired Sherlock, the incredulity frank in his tone.
“Yeah. If you want.” John wasn’t looking at Sherlock. He was still re-filling the cupboards.
“I’d love to. It’s just no one’s ever requested it before. I mean, not outside a case.”
“Up to you,” said John.
Make it good, make it good.
Sherlock looked about, then his eyes rested on John’s phone.
“…never see those marks on a sober man’s phone, never see a drunk’s without them.”
“Holy Mary,” breathed John when Sherlock had finished. “All right, yeah, you’re the real thing, eh? Christ, a bloody genius. That’s fantastic!”
The way John looked at him, Sherlock’s heart stopped. He was positively beaming.
“Is it? Most people say, ‘Piss off!’”
“Most people are idiots.” Laughing, John closed the distance between them and did something extraordinary: he reached out and rubbed the back of Sherlock’s head.
Sherlock had never been on the receiving end of so easy and affectionate a gesture as an adult, and his shock must’ve showed because John stopped and dropped his hand.
“Sorry. That all right? Too much?”
“No, no, it’s fine,” Sherlock reassured him. “It’s just been a while.”
A while since a handsome, kind, interesting man in his underwear decided to pet Sherlock as well as clean his kitchen at four in the morning?
“Did I get it all right?” asked Sherlock. “The deduction?”
“Oh, yeah, except for Harry being short for Harriet.”
“Sister! There’s always something!” So much for showing off!
“But tell me this,” said John, turning back to the kitchen, “how did a genius like you happen to break an arm and a leg?”
“Must’ve been a bad one!”
With everything restored, John closed the cupboard doors one by one, then, with sponges and a spray bottle of cleaner, turned his attention to the counters. “I’m no detective, but I’m guessing that you fell?”
“Yes, from a turret belonging to a castle belonging to an old schoolmate named Reggie Musgrave.”
“Oh, yeah? Let’s hear the story while I work.”
An hour and a half later the counters and stove and refrigerator were clean.
Sherlock and John were on their second cup of tea, a plate with nothing but crumbs between them.
“Christ, Sherlock! A treasure, clues in a riddle poem, family secrets. My therapist says I should write about everything that happens to me, but sod that! I’d rather write about what happens to you!”
“I fell off the turret, that’s what happened!”
“You solved the case, though.”
“True.” Sherlock fiddled with his mug. “You may, you know. Write it up for your blog.”
“Are you serious?”
“I remember. You’re always serious. Do you want me to change the names or anything?”
“No. After all, it might be good for business.”
“No such thing as bad publicity.”
John nodded. “We’ll see. Let’s get through the next three days.” He drained his mug and stifled a yawn.
Sherlock turned his head. “If it made any difference, you could kip on the…”
“Yeah, no thanks, your sofa has mange.”
“It does not,” said Sherlock a bit defensively. “That’s a bear skin rug. It’s been in storage, but not proper storage, unfortunately, for more than a year. It just needs a professional cleaning.”
John got to his feet and walked towards the sofa. “What are you doing with a bear skin rug?”
“Another case. Dartmoor.”
Sherlock tried not to image John on the bear skin rug and failed.
“Huh. No fleas, I suppose.” John picked up the heavy roll, studied it, then set it on the coffee table. Then he turned around and began brushing the seat of the sofa. “Maybe I will rest for a few minutes. Do you need something? Loo? Chair?”
“Yes and yes,” said Sherlock. “Maybe a shave later?”
“You got it. Me, too.”
Sherlock had rolled his wheelchair near the sofa and pretended to read, but his thoughts were on his sleeping companion. John did not appear to be experiencing any nightmares. As the sun rose, Sherlock set his book aside and dozed in the chair, only to be awakened by footsteps on the stairs.
“Oh!” said Mrs. Hudson as her gaze followed Sherlock’s frantic, censorious pointing. She set a hamper down on the floor and put a finger to her lips.
Sherlock checked. John hadn’t stirred.
“Mrs. Hudson, would you…?” He made another gesture, this time a kind of flailing in John’s direction.
Mrs. Hudson’s eyebrows rose, but she did not require further explanation. She went silently down the hall and returned with a blanket, which she carefully tucked around John’s form.
Sherlock nodded and mouthed, “Excellent. Thank you.”
Mrs. Hudson retrieved the hamper and took it to the kitchen.
“Oh, my!” she said in a soft gasp. “Bless him! He’s done all but the lino!” There was the sound of the fridge opening. “No more toes!” She hurried back to Sherlock.
“You will be good to him, won’t you, Sherlock?”
“Yes,” Sherlock promised.
“Shall I make some breakfast for the both of you?”
“That would be wonderful, Mrs. Hudson.” Sherlock took her hands in his and kissed them. “Thank you.”
“I’ve brought everything, plus those pyjamas he asked me to fix up for you.” She winked and went back to the kitchen.
The noise and the aromas from the kitchen soon drifted their way.
John stirred. He snuffled and hummed and grunted. Then he half-opened his eyes and looked at Sherlock, then looked down at the blanket, then looked back at Sherlock and smiled.
Sherlock smiled back.
John’s smile became a bit warm, a bit wicked. But just as he drew the blanket aside, there was a crash of a skillet hitting a hob and a cheery ‘Oopsies!’ from the kitchen.
Sherlock hadn’t missed the telltale tenting of John’s pants, but in an instant, a wide-eyed and now-wide-awake John had gotten to his feet with the blanket wrapped around his waist.
“Mrs. Hudson?” he called.
“Good morning, dear!” she called back. “You’ve done such a good job in here, I thought you deserved a nice fry-up!”
Without looking at Sherlock, John began to hurriedly hobble towards the stairs.
“Thank you so much! I’ll be ready in a few minutes!”
Sherlock felt a pang of something unpleasant until he heard a barefoot shuffle behind him—and felt the affectionate ruffle of his hair.