When John comes home Sherlock isn't there and that doesn't particularly surprise or bother him. It gives him the opportunity to tidy up the kitchen a little, just enough to make himself a decent cup of tea and a sandwich. The lull in Sherlock's frantic activity, admittedly caused by his absence, means that John can sit down with his feet up and not have to worry about the lack of background noise being indicative of anything. He doesn't even have to turn on the TV and pretend that he's watching something engaging to get Sherlock to quieten down. It's a nice change and after the life he's led he always appreciates a little natural silence.
He's almost finished his plain cheese sandwich when the door opens oddly cautiously and Sherlock staggers in. John chews the last piece of crust and watches as Sherlock shambles across the floor to the couch where he drops a bag on the floor and then tumbles down into the seat. The bag John notes would be entirely unremarkable if it was being carried by anyone other than Sherlock Holmes. In fact what Sherlock's wearing would equally not be worth comment on anybody else.
"What...?" John can't even begin to phrase a specific question.
"Work." Sherlock replies, not looking at John and instead reaching into an inside pocket from which he manages to pull out a packet of cigarettes with some difficulty.
"You gave up."
Sherlock puts a cigarette in his mouth and fails to light it twice with shaking hands.
"I told you: work." Sherlock manages around his now lit cigarette.
John watches in suspicion as Sherlock just lets the lighter and packet drop uncaringly. It might be a case of course and John has known Sherlock to do some bizarre things in the aid of such but everything reads like a crash post some sort of chemical intoxicant to his physician's eyes. The pinstripe suit, white shirt and conservative tie aren't helping that impression either.
"What did you take?"
"Take?" Sherlock slumps down even further on the couch as if the last of his energy is deserting him.
"You've obviously taken something. Now what was it?"
"Oh, that. Coffee. Four. In the morning. Two this afternoon."
"Starbucks filter coffee. Pound a cup."
John doesn't know what to say to that but he sits forward, feet flat on the floor, arms crossed in a mixture of confusion, annoyance and worry. "Why?"
"Nothing else to do. Had to do something."
"You had to- I don't know." John sighs.
"Breaks. Health and Safety. Get away from the screen, you know."
"I- yes, actually I do. But that still doesn't answer why you were doing it."
"There was a Starbucks downstairs."
"You really are being very..." Sherlock's gaze starts to lose the strange dullness of the last few minutes. "Very John about it."
John unfolds his arms, shaking his head with a slight smile.
Sherlock smiles tiredly in response. "I only smoked half at least."
"Half a cigarette?"
"Half a pack."
John doesn't comment on that and instead comes over to sit on the couch with Sherlock and take his pulse.
"Too much caffeine." Sherlock murmurs, letting his head fall back.
"You should examine Mycroft." Sherlock watches John time his pulse.
"There must be something wrong with his central nervous system."
"Really?" John lets go of Sherlock's wrist and reaches out to press the back of a hand to Sherlock's cheek.
"Drinks too much coffee. Doesn't have any side-effects."
"Your skin's flushed." John explains. "You really shouldn't drink that much."
"I didn't have anything else to do." Sherlock gestures at the room with his cigarette.
John takes the cigarette from him and takes a drag.
"You still haven't asked me what I was doing."
"No, I haven't."
Sherlock reaches for the cigarette but John holds it out of reach.
"Don't try to self-medicate."
"I don't know what you mean." Sherlock's affronted tone suggests otherwise.
"Alright, fine. I wasn't really, not, you know, at first."
They lapse into silence. John smokes the rest of Sherlock's cigarette and Sherlock lies back against the couch trying to relax in the face of having so much caffeine in his system.
"So... what were you doing today that required six cups of coffee and ten cigarettes?"
"And Health and Safety breaks." Sherlock reminds.
"And Health and Safety breaks."
"On a case?" John eyes the stubbed out cigarette in the plate he's used as a convenient ashtray.
"No, just work."
John picks the pack and lighter up off the floor and lights another cigarette.
"You didn't ask what kind of work."
"What kind of work?" John hands the cigarette over to Sherlock.
Sherlock inhales deeply and passes the cigarette back to John. "Data analysis."
"Oh." John sounds mildly surprised as he blows out a mouthful of smoke.
"I told them where their data was wrong."
"Where it wasn't matching."
"No, just a job."
"I thought you found regular work boring." John teases, passing the cigarette back again.
"I do. That's why I almost drank myself into a caffeine coma." Sherlock exhales smoke thought his nose with a touch of annoyance.
John considers that as the cigarette's handed back to him again. He lets the smoke sit ponderously in his mouth before he breathes it out again.
Now Sherlock is starting to look like his usually impatient self. He loosens his tie and manages to kick off his shoes without even undoing the laces. Slouched on the couch, close to scowling he actually looks like some pretentious city boy who's just been told that his girlfriend has a headache.
"You didn't ask me why." Sherlock accuses sullenly.
"I'll ask if you've got us a reservation at Dorsia." John manages to get the words out with an entirely straight face but the effect is spoiled by the fact that afterwards he immediately starts laughing.
John recovers from his laughter, wondering if he's gone too far when suddenly he's pulled off balance so that he falls sideways against Sherlock. Sherlock's arm curves round his shoulder comfortably as the cigarette is plucked from his hand.
"Dorsia is..." Sherlock pauses to take a drag. "Fine." He exhales.
For a moment John stares and then he starts laughing again.
"You've seen that film?"
"Read the book. It's a fascinating study in the unreliability of witnesses."
They remain like that: Sherlock slumped on the couch, John leaning against him.
"Why then?" John concedes
"You told me to get a job."
"You tried to do a regular job... because I asked you to?" John is incredulous.
Sherlock doesn't answer, careful not to meet John's eyes.
John doesn't have a response to that, in fact he's not at all sure what he thinks of the situation so it seems a fairly sensible choice not to say anything at all for long moments and just rest his head on Sherlock's shoulder.
"Are you... going to work tomorrow?"
"Do you want me to?"
"No. You'll only drink too much coffee again."
Sherlock smiles. "Good. I quit."
"You'll need to tell them-" John begins, raising his head to look Sherlock in the eye.
"I've already told them."
They're staring at each other with hardly any distance between them and John realises that this isn't a position he'd ever thought to be in. Even if Sherlock wasn't 'married to his work' John has always fancied that he'd be the aggressor, that he'd be the one to push boundaries, staking claim to masculine archetypes and pulling an unresisting Sherlock into his arms. Sherlock pulls away then and John wonders if he's read everything wrong. He's about to stand up and walk away when he realises that all Sherlock is doing is stubbing out the remains of their second cigarette.
"So." John doesn't have anything else to add.
"So." Sherlock returns amiably.
John's about to try to add more to the conversation when the arm around his shoulder moves down to his waist pulling him close. He has less than a second to register his surprise and open his mouth to voice it and then Sherlock is kissing him. John's last coherent thought is that the suit he's wrinkling horribly as he clutches at it is probably a very expensive one.