“I’m fine,” John told Lestrade on the phone, for about the tenth time. “Really. Change of plans, that’s all. I’m not even that ill--just needed a good excuse not to see Harry at Christmas this year.”
“Right,” Lestrade said. “Fine. That’s reassuring. So...I’ll just stop and look in on you on my way to the train, shall I? It’s on the way. What do you need? Soup? Tissues? Hand job?”
John didn’t even attempt a laugh. “No, I’ve told you, don’t come down here. I mean it, I won’t answer the door to you if you do. You don’t want to bring the dreaded lurgy up to your sister and her kids, do you? Anyway, I’m disgusting right now. I’ll be no fun at all. You’re well out of it.”
“I don’t care about that,” Lestrade said. “I’ll phone Anne and tell her I’m staying in London. I don’t mind. Catch up with them at New Year’s instead. I just want to make sure you’re--”
“I am fine.” John sounded seriously annoyed now. “The last thing I want is you fussing at me while I’m trying to get some rest. I don’t need anything, and if I do, I’ve got Sherlock. He’s only going to his family’s for Christmas dinner. Just...leave it. Go. I really don’t want you here.”
Lestrade went quiet. “All right,” he said. “That’s...yeah, sure, fine, I’ll phone you when I get to Anne’s. Or when I get back. Take care.” He hung up and sat back at his desk, frowning, trying not to think about Sherlock bringing John blankets and Lemsips for the next few days. Watching bad television with him. Playing bloody Christmas carols on the bloody violin for him, no doubt, that long-fingered elegant bastard.
“Is it catching?” Sherlock asked apprehensively from John’s bedroom doorway. “You look disgusting. You’re not going to need me to bring you things, are you? I was planning on taking an early train to my mother’s tonight.”
“Yes, go,” John croaked without opening his eyes. “Go away, Sherlock. I don’t need things. I need sleep.”
“Because I really don’t want to get ill again right now,” Sherlock said. “The last time was awful.” He reached out to fiddle with the door handle, then appeared to think better of it and put his hands behind his back instead.
“Christ, yes,” John agreed with feeling. “You’re horrible when you’re ill.”
Sherlock looked hurt.
“Go, go away, go,” John repeated. “I refuse to have this conversation. If you don’t go then I will. This is probably the least restful residence in all of London, when you’re in it.”
“You’re being uncharacteristically blunt and bad-tempered.” Sherlock narrowed his eyes at John. “How ill are you? Are you all right to be left on your own?”
“Doctor,” John said, pointing to himself.
“Yes, I realise, but--”
“It’s a virus, I’ve treated approximately nine hundred people with it in the past week alone, I am going to do nothing but drink tea and sleep for the next two days and that will be the end of it,” John said wearily. “And Lestrade’s offered to stay home from his sister’s. I’m sure he’ll be round.”
“You’ll infect him.”
“Don’t care. He’s not horrible to look after.”
“Fine,” Sherlock snapped. “I’ll be back Boxing Day night. Probably. Have a lovely time on your own with Lestrade.” He turned on his heel and stalked away, and there were sounds of vehement hand-washing a few moments later.
John spent all of Christmas Eve and most of Christmas morning in the loo wishing he were dead and congratulating himself on having spared Sherlock and Lestrade the misery of a similar fate. Or the misery of having to clean up after him. Or both. True, they were now both upset with him and wildly jealous of each other, but it was for the best, he thought. Anyway they’d work it out again when they got back. Possibly while dealing with his remains. John groaned, and wished his gun weren’t all the way down the hall. He contemplated drowning himself in the toilet bowl--no, too disgusting--perhaps the sink?--but fell asleep on the bath mat before he could follow through with the plan.
When he woke early in the afternoon, his insides seemed to have finally settled down and were no longer attempting to escape from his body. He thought he might just try for a piece of toast and a cup of weak tea, but was so wrung out that he had to stop and sit with his head between his knees in the middle of the stairs, and then fell into a half-doze on the sofa again while resting up after the long journey. Tea and toast began to seem far too much bother.
One of them might have at least tried to phone and check in on him, he thought petulantly, self-pityingly, forgetting that he’d left his mobile upstairs on vibrate in his dressing-gown pocket.
Lestrade finally gave in at around two in the afternoon and rang Sherlock. “Sorry, but John’s not picking up his phone. How is he? Can I speak to him?”
“Yes, and a Merry Christmas to you, too,” Sherlock said irritably. “I was just about to phone you and ask the same thing. He’s sent you packing, too, I presume?”
"You are in unbelievable amounts of trouble," Lestrade was saying, when John woke again that evening. "I could bring you up on charges for this. I might do, soon as you're well. Wrongful...something."
"Your hands are cold," John said from his drowsy haze. "No, bring them back, they were nice--"
"Budge over," Sherlock said, shoving at John's head so he could flop down on the sofa next to him and put his feet up on the ottoman. "God, I hate traveling at Christmas. Half the train was drunk." He pulled John's head back roughly onto his lap and melted into the cushions with a loud sigh. "Speaking of which. Lestrade, are you making tea with whisky in?
"I am making whisky with whisky in," Lestrade called from the kitchen.
"I'm probably still contagious," John protested.
"Don't care," said Sherlock. "Not moving. I hope I do get ill; you deserve it. Where's the remote?"
"Hey," Lestrade said, and John opened his eyes to find him kneeling next to the sofa. "Christmas dinner for you here. Paracetamol and water. Have you been keeping anything down? You look like death."
"You look gorgeous," John said. "Did you get to eat?"
"Anne sent me home with half the contents of her kitchen."
"Smells...bearable," John murmured. "I might even want some of it, in about a week."
"Too bad. I'm not sharing. And I'm giving all your presents away to charity. What are you smiling like that for? You think I don't mean it?" Lestrade had leaned in very close, close enough to knock his forehead against John's. "Git."
"Quit being soppy," Sherlock said, shoving at them both. "Doctor Who is on. I can't mock it properly when you're snogging in my lap."
"Oh, fine," Lestrade said. He turned around and leaned his head back against the two of them, sprawled out on the floor still in his coat, and they all settled in to watch.