Thursday is brighter than Wednesday and the snow stands a good chance of at least being frightened into some sort of submission. It's starting to look compacted by the steady tread of anyone brave enough to go outside. Which means it'll be treacherous as hell the moment it does start to properly melt, or, knowing London, get covered in a slippery coating of rain. Cars are making their way cautiously along the still hidden roads in a way that's slow but purposeful. Some people are clearly determined to get somewhere today.
John phones the clinic to see if they need him. But apparently he's surplus to requirements for another day.
Sherlock has whisked himself out, possibly to investigate if the criminals have seen fit to brave the snow yet. The more bored he gets the less picky he is about what he'll let occupy his extraordinary brainpower. If he finds anything even remotely interesting he'll probably text John and demand he meet him somewhere cold, wet and snowy.
God, for once he hopes it's all horribly dull out.
John's own clever deduction for the day is going to be that Sherlock will, at some point, discover that he should have invested in a pair of boots. Though he probably won't notice this until his brain comes to the end of a thought, since it's one of those pesky human sensations that he doesn't have time for.
Though his absence does give John an opportunity to root through the kitchen cupboards until he comes across the bin bags.
There are a lot of them, John's fairly sure Sherlock's been disposing of things in them that the council would disapprove of. But there probably isn't a bag colour for 'severed limbs and miscellaneous experiments.'
He takes the bag through the flat and ventures into Sherlock's room.
It's dark enough that he has to flick on the light.
The first thing he notices is that the room looks like an explosion of information. Like Google threw up everywhere halfway through a search.
The walls are covered in a mess of maps, letters and torn book pages, held up with a combination of blue tack, tape, pins and enthusiasm. The entire room is fast on its way to becoming the wall of obsession that you always seen on TV before the police take someone away in handcuffs.
The second thing he notices, is that there really is a dead owl on Sherlock's bed. There are a lot of things on Sherlock's bed, none that seem to involve sleeping. Books, maps, science equipment, medical equipment, jackets, police files, sealed evidence bags, rolls of electrical tape, half of a hazmat suit. John's only certain there is a bed under there because it's the right size and shape.
There's an outside chance Sherlock could have just burrowed in among the vast array of stuff and stayed perfectly warm. Though he would probably have ended up stabbed by something lethal, or possibly radioactive.
How does he even sleep in here? No wonder he's so irritatingly intent on stealing John's bed, he's already sacrificed his own to some dark science god.
The dead owl is the most striking thing on the bed though. It's a massive barn owl, wings spread open and pinned down through the plastic it's laying on, pinned through the mattress and into the bed frame, apparently. Mrs Hudson is probably not going to be happy about that.
It looks like Sherlock became fascinated by the wings somehow, that he had some sort of plan for them, before his brain found something new to obsess over.
The only tidy space in the entire room is the wardrobe. For some reason the explosion of random stuff hasn't encroached into where Sherlock keeps his clean clothes. Which seems like a bewildering random detail.
John shakes the bag he's holding open, wondering if he should have put on gloves. He decides in the end that it's putting things off that led to this madness in the first place. He finds a plastic bag among the mess, which will serve as well. Before he takes hold of the pins and pulls them out one by one. Two rolls of electrical tape roll off the bed, they get as far as a teetering pile of books before they hit them, roll off in a new direction and disappear.
There's a slow drift of feathers and something in one of the evidence bags squishes in a way that John really doesn't want to think about too much.
"Dear God," he complains, before picking the owl up by one vast wing - damn the thing's heavier than it looks - and dropping it unceremoniously into the bag.
It hits the floor with a rustling thud that manages to sound more pathetic than it has any right to.
He folds up the plastic that was underneath it too, and stuffs that in the bag for good measure, before dropping in the carrier bag and tying it all up. Then he carries it into the kitchen. He's not entirely sure whether he can get away with throwing the dead owl out, but he's going to take the chance. He's making a point here more than anything else. A point even Sherlock is going to be able to understand - current experiments be damned.
He can't just instantly assume he can be allowed to get away with things. They can't just share a bed because he's decided it's cold and he's put his experiment in a stupid place.
Sherlock doesn't text him, instead he reappears after lunch dragging in half a snowdrift that he does his best to tromp all the way upstairs.
He eyeballs the bin bag on the kitchen floor for a handful of seconds, clearly deducing what's inside it, before sinking down onto the sofa and putting his wet shoes up on the arm.
He looks - John tries to think of a good word, a Sherlock-appropriate word - vexed. That's a good word.
Though it's not his usual kind. John knows the difference by now, he can tell what's 'irritated by a mystery he can't solve,' and 'irritated by a mystery that was disappointingly easy to solve.' This is neither of those. So either it's something new, or it's something mundane, like Sherlock's discovered the fact that he has feet and he's wondering why they hurt so much.
"Laptop," Sherlock says suddenly, in that flat, obnoxiously demanding way that's gotten him far too many things. In a way that John really shouldn't be pandering to. He eyeballs the computer from across the room, where it's perfectly within reaching distance of Sherlock's steepled fingers.
Then he sighs and crosses the room, picks it up and drops it into Sherlock's lap with as little care as he can manage.
John goes out for shopping. Because they need something to eat that isn't packet rice or jars of mustard, and the mood Sherlock's in John's fairly sure that company is the last thing he wants. The mood he's in, where people are mostly furniture getting in the way of his thought processes, John doesn't particularly want to try,
The snow's still deep enough to make walking a slow process, but everyone else seems to have had the same idea. Possibly because they think this is going to be the only break in the weather and tomorrow they'll all descend back into the artic and need to be rescued.
The temperature difference between inside and outside isn't much, but it doesn't take long before the tromping leaves him sweating and the cars are all driving too fast, wheels spinning on the compacted snow. No clear idea what's pavement and what's road.
When he gets back to the flat he's cold and tired and his leg hurts. He hopes he remembered to buy something he actually wants to eat, because he's starving.
Sherlock's still on the sofa, book spread open above his head. The whole place smells like warm towels.
John lays the back of his hand against the radiator - and then instantly yanks it away again because it's fiercely hot.
"You fixed the heating." John's aware that he sounds surprised.
"Sometimes the needs of the flesh do actually interfere with productivity and must be dealt with," Sherlock provides lazily without looking at him.
"Thanks," John says anyway.
He puts the bags on a clean space on the side and hopes to God it hasn’t recently been occupied by poison or broken glass. Or something worse. He's not quite sure what would be worse than poison or broken glass, but he knows there'll be something. And he has absolute faith that Sherlock would find that something and stick electrodes in it.
"I moved the owl too, while you were out. So, y'know, you can go back to your own room now."
John's not looking but he gets the feeling Sherlock is eyeballing him from across the room.
"You won't freeze to death," he adds. Though he does wonder about the entire lab's worth of sharp implements currently sequestered among Sherlock's experiments, stolen evidence and dirty washing.
There's an irritated noise from the direction of the sofa.
"I don't usually sleep in there. It would require the redistribution of far too much equipment. I mostly sleep on the sofa, or in the chair in the kitchen. It's easier to be close to whatever needs my attention."
"That's ridiculous," John offers, without really thinking about it.
"I don't require much sleep anyway. I never have, I'm far too busy."
"You slept just fine in my room," John points out, and then wonders why, because bringing it up is almost certainly a bad idea.
Instead Sherlock makes a noise which John doesn't have a hope of translating.
"An aberration most likely."
There's a quiet, clipped brevity to the words. It's oddly restrained for Sherlock. John gets the feeling there are words under there, a great deal of words. Though for some strange and bewildering reason he's choosing not to share them.
Which isn't like him.
In as much as Sherlock can be predicted.
He pulls himself up from the sofa, book dropped in a riot of bent pages onto the floor. He exchanges the book for the microscope on the table, that he's somehow managed to borrow/steal from the lab. Ignoring John like there's nothing more to be said. Giving the impression that he intends to work on his experiments all night and has no intention of trying to wrangle his way into John's bed for a third night in a row.
Like the very idea of it is beneath him.
Like he isn't, in fact, the very picture of a chronic insomniac who's discovered a cure and been denied it.
John feels like a bastard.
Which he thinks is horribly unfair.
John spends Thursday night on his own.
Sherlock stays downstairs all night. John knows because he lays in the dark listening to the sound of paper being torn and the occasional clank of glass on glass.
No violin though, thank God.
The bed's cold, even with the heating working, and his shoulder aches.
He scowls at the ceiling and rolls over more times than he can count, tucking the covers around him in ever more inventive ways until he feels like he's performing some sort of terrifying amateur experiment in mummification that Sherlock would probably approve of.
He has the strangest feeling he's being punished for something.
Friday leaves most of London covered in the hectic slush of well-travelled roads and melting rooftop snow. Most of the country is still in the deep freeze but London has managed to dig itself free. For the most part.
It's still cold as hell but now it's a damper, heavier cold which threatens to drip everywhere in unpleasant ways.
He's out for most of the day.
He leaves Sherlock having a venomous conversation with someone who's apparently been stupid enough to earn his wrath.
Friday he sleeps alone as well.
Mrs Hudson comes back Saturday morning.
The very first thing Sherlock does is steal her paper. Which has the words 'Baffling Mystery' emblazoned on the front page.
It's the start of a very long weekend.
The 'Baffling Mystery' turns out to be a locked room puzzle with a possible murder-suicide and no evidence of a murder weapon. The whole thing leaves John scratching his head in honest and heartfelt bewilderment. While Sherlock looks about as excited as it's possible to look while standing over the bludgeoned corpses of two people in their early twenties.
Sherlock drags John across London for three days picking up and discarding more leads than John knows what to do with. By day three he's almost completely forgotten what's relevant and what's not. Until he doesn’t have the faintest idea how Sherlock manages to keep it all straight in his head.
Eventually they're left with the jealous boyfriend, who's nowhere to be found, some incriminating emails, an empty garage, and injuries that suggest their locked room murder-suicide is in fact a locked room murder-murder.
John's brain pretty much started hurting and never stopped.
Sherlock whisks around London some more, equal parts genius and madness. And John can't help but be swept up in it, in the mystery, in the questions, in Sherlock. Even though if anyone had ever even suggested that he was the sort to get swept up in things he would have objected. Strongly.
Sherlock has to know things. He has to unpick the world until he can see how it works, why it works. He breaks all the rules to do it, and he makes John want to break them too. Even when he knows he shouldn't. And he's getting far too used to apologising for Sherlock's ability to reduce people to tears or make them want to punch him at a moment's notice.
Sherlock eventually insists, in a taxi - which is starting to become something of a theme for them - that everything else is impossible and, though it would seem improbable, the only possible solution is that the murderer never left the room.
Lestrade is dubious but John suspects if Sherlock assured him that fairies had stolen him away to another dimension he'd have to seriously think about it for a minute.
They finally find the murderous ex-boyfriend mouldering away in the ceiling.
Sherlock revels in his brilliance and makes damn sure everyone else revels in his brilliance too.
John's left with the mummified corpse of their murderer. Which involves much less revelling and a lot more skin samples.
It's not exactly his idea of an exciting Monday night.
He finally gets back to the flat through the final remnants of London slush at two in the morning.
He finds Sherlock glaring at his laptop screen with all the demented, frustrated focus of someone who's been up for at least sixty hours and is trying vainly to wind down to some sort of sleep rather than a psychotic break. John's just close enough to see what he's looking at, something about mummification, which seems like fabulous bedtime reading. There appear to be at least seven tabs open at once. Possibly in the hope that Sherlock can bludgeon his brain with knowledge until it gives in and knocks itself unconscious.
He's not quite sure why that makes it so easy. It just does.
"Have you taken anything?" John asks quietly.
"Not today," Sherlock says, and his voice is all depth and frenzy.
John tries not to think about the fact that it's only been 'today' for a few hours.
Instead he catches Sherlock's arm, cold even through his dressing gown and tugs him upright. The laptop falls shut with a click.
"Come on," he says.
Sherlock doesn't even look bewildered. He just mutters something quick and incomprehensible about damp and rates of decay and how he should have realised it sooner, all the way up to John's room. He lets John drag his dressing gown off without protest and sits when John pushes him.
Once is a necessity.
Twice is coincidence.
Three times is a habit.
John's not sure what to think about the fact that it's become a habit.
Or the fact that he's let it become a habit.
Sherlock sleeps exactly like everyone else and that's something that John can't quite get his head around. He's not exactly sure what he expected to start with, he's not sure how else you were supposed to sleep.
Anyone had to give in after roughly five days without sleep, after that endless stretch of hours working the streets of London. Pharmacological assistance or not, everyone had to sleep eventually.
The only times he'd ever seen Sherlock sleeping before all this started, it had mostly involved him being stretched out on the sofa. Elegant and dramatic like he'd fallen there, wearing something close to the ghost of a frown. Or slumped over the kitchen table in the only clean space left to him in-between experiments.
But even then, even after all those times John had never been entirely sure. Sherlock didn't seem the type to sleep where he could be observed. Sherlock had always seemed the type to provide the drama of sleeping without the messy vulnerability of it.
In his bed Sherlock is all limbs and angles, curious in his normality, complete with messy hair, shifting legs and hypnotically slow breathing.
Granted, at this particular moment in time John's glad he's asleep.
Because there are certain, obvious and instinctive reactions to having someone warm and not entirely unattractive sprawled haplessly over you. Reactions that he doesn't particularly want to draw attention to at the moment. Because he's not Sherlock, no one is Sherlock. Real people - ordinary people - have very real and confusing lives. Lives that tend to rely on emotional feedback and awkwardness and all that complicated stuff Sherlock doesn't have time for.
"It's amazing how you can be so very impressed by my powers of observation one minute and desperately hoping I'm a complete moron the next," Sherlock murmurs, quietly, and with none of the venom the words would usually carry. John should have known he was awake.
"I wasn't hoping you were a moron," John says carefully, and wonders if it would be polite to try and untangle himself, since it's not obvious to everyone involved why this should be awkward.
Sherlock's making no attempt to move. He probably doesn’t think it's important.
"Do you realise how many physical indications of arousal there are?" he says lazily instead.
John tries very hard not to react to the word 'arousal' but he can feel his skin tightening and he knows Sherlock can feel it too. Sherlock just doesn't miss things, and he lets you know he doesn’t miss things.
"A few I'd imagine," John says, and hopes he manages to convey how very much he doesn't want Sherlock to list them all off.
"How many of them do you think I've noticed by now?"
John decides there's probably no way to make this subtle. "Can we not talk about my accidental arousal, please."
"I'm curious, is it just my physical proximity or -"
"Not talking about it Sherlock," John says stiffly.
"I was simply curious," Sherlock says.
John sighs, like he's being difficult on purpose.
"Look, I don't normally make a point of sharing my bed with people I'm not involved with, you can't expect me to wake up with you sprawled all over me and not -"
"React?" Sherlock offers.
"That was surprisingly subtle for you," John says.
"I can be subtle." Sherlock's hand has worked its way underneath the pillow. John can feel the pressure against the back of his head.
"You just choose not to be?"
"Subtle requires a constant monitoring of social niceties that I have absolutely no interest in; distracting at best, a constant source of irritation at worst."
"So, basically, you're too lazy to be nice?" John says.
He knows what expression Sherlock will be wearing now, he doesn’t even have to look. It'll be that disturbingly intense one that says 'you know exactly what I meant, stop bastardising my perfectly coherent sentences.'
"You think it's strange because I haven't tried to have sex with you," Sherlock says, out of nowhere.
John will admit, he's a little thrown by that, and he ends up speaking without thinking first.
"Yes - no - I don't know, it's just weird, and the fact that you don't care that it's weird makes it worse."
"I don't care about a lot of things, John, some you have objected to far more strenuously than this." Sherlock shouldn't be able to sound so sensible. It's an unfair advantage in any conversation, but especially now.
"How am I supposed to know what to object to? I swear you have at least three motives for absolutely everything you do," John protests.
"Would it make it easier if I establish now that none of my motives were of a sexual nature?"
"Maybe - probably not." John shakes his head and sighs again. "Grown men who are 'just friends' rarely share a bed, Sherlock."
"According to which authority?" Sherlock huffs. Like this is one of those things he's not going to accept without proof.
"I don't think it's the sort of thing people vote on."
"So a completely pointless protest then."
"It's not a pointless protest." John kicks the covers straight but it's more irritation than anything else. "Do you have any concept at all of what you try and get away with on a daily basis?"
There's a warm stream of air across his throat which he's going to assume is Sherlock finding this all terribly amusing.
"No, that's the beauty of it."
"You're doing it on purpose now -" John stops "- I can't even remember what we were talking about?"
"We're establishing that your erection is a side-effect of proximity and not the dramatic breaking of social convention," Sherlock says, like they're talking about the weather.
John stares at the ceiling. "Yes, fantastic, thank you for that. But I'd rather that was part of my life you don't make pointed observations on."
"Is this another rule?" Sherlock asks dryly.
John will not laugh, because this is absolutely not a laughing matter.
"Yes, Sherlock, it's another rule. Rules help relationships run smoothly."
Sherlock makes a noise that clearly doesn’t believe him.
"Relationships are distracting, overly complicated and require an undue amount of effort for very little reward."
"Much like this relationship then," John says and he can hear the sarcasm creeping in without even trying. "Where you're getting a good night's sleep and forty percent of my body heat and I'm getting - what am I getting again?"
Sherlock's briefly quiet, like that had never occurred to him. Or like that hadn't been important until now.
Sherlock's long gone by the time John eventually gets up. He can hear him talking to himself somewhere downstairs, all sharp syllables and self-satisfaction. Brain working at three thousand percent again.
John's so glad someone's awake.
Since there's no immediate indication that Sherlock is going to set anything on fire, or bring his severed head back to life, John decides there's no rush to get dressed.
When he finally gets downstairs he discovers that there are apparently now petri dishes containing...something on the kitchen side.
He makes his toast somewhere else, somewhere not biologically contaminated, while Sherlock is - he has no idea what Sherlock's doing, possibly cloning himself - no, of course he isn't. Sherlock would absolutely hate not being the smartest person in a room.
It's all strangely peaceful, and Sherlock even moves some sort of culture so John can put his tea within drinking range but not 'possible spillage into important experiments' range.
"Not all the time," John says quietly, over the piece of toast he's eating. "But if you're having trouble sleeping, really bad trouble sleeping, you can come in."
Sherlock looks up from his dishes, and for a second there's surprise. John doesn't blame him, he's kind of surprised himself there.
"Not all the time though," John says again, through the steam of his mug. "And not as some sort of experiment in annoying me."
"No, of course." Sherlock, in his own strange way, manages to make that sound like 'thank you.'
"I'm insane," John mutters and drinks a mouthful of tea that's far too hot.
Sherlock doesn't comment on that.
"I rarely sleep when I'm working on a problem, or in the middle of an experiment," he offers instead, possibly as some sort of compromise.
"And never when I have company," John adds. "Or I'm in a relationship."
"How am I supposed to be able to predict with accuracy when you're liable to have company?"
"You always know," John says, with a pointed stare.
"Fine." Sherlock doesn't bother looking up from what he's doing that time. John knows his expression won't look chastised in the slightest.
John thinks he's probably going to regret this.
He's almost certainly going to regret this.