Their client claimed to have heard scuffling attempts to force various windows and doors each night for the last week. The lack of evidence for either the break-ins or fabrication by the client intrigued Sherlock, which was how this particular evening found Sherlock and John huddled in an alley — thankfully a relatively clean one — watching carefully for activity at a townhouse in Marylebone.
In the chill of the late September evening, John first hunched into his canvas jacket, and then started to shiver. He surreptitiously eyed Sherlock's coat with envy. While dashing, the utility of the garment was lost on a man who seemed never to feel discomfort from his surroundings.
"It's a mite nippy tonight," John commented idly.
"Hm? Oh. Here," Sherlock said, shrugging out of his greatcoat and holding it in John's direction without taking his eyes off the building. John looked at it warily for a moment. Sherlock never parted with his coat outside the flat. "Take it, will you? Your gawping is putting me off!"
"Ah, sorry." John took the coat and slipped it on, reveling in the warmth. He resumed his watch and leaned back against the wall behind him. "Thanks."
Hours passed uneventfully. As the sky began to lighten an hour before dawn, Sherlock said, "We'd best be off then."
Hearing no response after a few moments, he said more tersely, "John." He looked over at his partner. John was still draped in Sherlock's coat leaning on the wall, but his head drooped low, subtly rising and falling with each deep, quiet breath he took.
Sherlock gently tapped his shoulder. "Come on, then. Let's get you home."
The tension had been building between them for weeks. For the last few days, they had engaged in a slow, inevitably narrowing orbit around one another that had culminated ten minutes earlier when Sherlock and John mashed their lips together just inside the front door. It was irrelevant who technically started it now that it was finally, finally happening.
They barely surfaced for air as they inched along the hall, up the stairs, and into the flat. Dizzy, high on each other, they slipped onto the couch, never stopping for more than a few gasping breaths before diving back in. Slowly, heat gave way to tenderness and the pace of their trembling explorations slowed. John finally broke from the kiss and rested his head against Sherlock's shoulder, his eyes wide with wonder.
"That… was amazing," he breathed.
Sherlock chuckled, rested one hand on John's shoulder, and continued smoothing the other over his hair. "Rather not what I'd planned for my evening, but quite nice."
"Still married to your work, are you?"
"My work has never kissed me like that. I think we might need to be more open to seeing other people."
John huffed a laugh against his shoulder and pushed himself up for another kiss. A few minutes later, he laid his head back on Sherlock's shoulder. "Whoo, 'm knackered."
"Rest, then." Sherlock stroked his hair as his breathing slowed and evened, holding him there on the couch.
Within minutes, John was fast asleep.
"And why, exactly, ought I be interested in this ... Bond character?"
"Because he's phenomenally clever and works outside the law to catch villains. He's a little like you might be if you actually worked with Mycroft instead of insulting him. Either you'll like him or you'll get an idea of how bloody insufferable you are." John grinned and ruffled Sherlock's hair affectionately. "Also, Bond films reliably have explosions of an order you cannot make in our kitchen."
"You know how I feel about the cinema."
"But this isn't the cinema. This is our sitting room," John said as he wandered into the kitchen for a beer. "You can talk at the screen in your pajamas. I can sit in your lap. There are also, er, alternative activities if the movie doesn't suit."
"Fine. I'll give it a few minutes."
"You want a drink?"
Sherlock shook his head, but sat up from his sprawled position on the couch and shuffled back to one end, letting one leg slip off the side. When John sat down between his legs, Sherlock curled forward against him, wrapping his arms and legs around John like a koala. John started the movie* and settled back into Sherlock's embrace.
The first few minutes were quite trying. Sherlock immediately saw the trap laid for Bond as he stealthily crept into it, and pontificated on the agent's idiocy. Once the assassins were dispatched, though, Sherlock seemed to understand that Bond was taking calculated risks and quieted down. He sneered at the romantic subplot and quickly spied all but one of the double agents (the girl was obvious, but the American agent really had seemed trustworthy). He studied the critical poker game earnestly, fascinated.
As the main plot drew to a close and it was obvious that Bond couldn't see the last trap, Sherlock shifted his attention to John, still loosely cradled in his grasp. Despite the exciting chase scenes, daring escapes, and promised explosions, John had nodded off. He stirred a little as Sherlock leaned still closer and started stroking his thigh, then yawned with a deep breath and subtle stretch.
"Mm, how'd you like the film?"
"Surprisingly entertaining, though Bond is still an idiot, especially right now as he's running off with the girl who has been looking to double-cross him from the beginning. It seems you, however, thought it was rather boring."
John blinked his eyes open to see the final scene still playing on the screen.
"You mentioned alternative activities earlier," Sherlock purred into the exposed neck before him. John took in a shaky breath. "I do so prefer activities we can both enjoy."
After a bracing scamper across Mayfair after a serial catnapper, Sherlock and John apprehended the suspect and brought him to New Scotland Yard. Thankfully, it was late. None of the people involved were satisfied with the charges against the suspect, and the pool of society ladies and earl's sons were put off until morning. The cat owners wanted the charges upgraded from theft to kidnapping. The thief had abandoned the purloined felines at the homes of their owners' enemies, all violently allergic to their charges, and these secondary victims wanted the suspect to face battery if not attempted murder. John had rarely been happier he had no official office with the Met. The day shift would be hell tomorrow.
John gave his brief statement about the chase, and then left Sherlock in Lestrade's office to complete his own. While he waited, he wandered through the department to the break room to get his customary cup of coffee, chatting with a few detectives on the way. While he sipped, he took notes for his blog entry, quietly grateful that he could blog about this and only had to censor one little breaking & entering on Sherlock's part. After a half hour, though, the coffee was gone, the notes were complete, and the late hour pressed on him. He tipped his chair back on two legs, leaned against the wall, and closed his eyes for just a moment.
The late shift at the Met was sparsely attended, but a few Yarders did come through for a late night cuppa. Most paid him no mind; John and Sherlock were well-known in this department, and it was routine for John to retreat to the break room after a case while Sherlock and the D.I. had it out in the office. Sergeant Donovan, however, stopped short on her way out and gave him a pitying look.
"Freak's not letting you sleep much, is he? He really ought to take you home when it's so late. It's a cat thief, not a murderer, after all."
Anderson came in, presumably after visiting Donovan at her desk, and snickered when he saw John. He took a piece of cardboard from the corner by the bin, laid it across John's lap, and started making a tower on it with the paper cups. He could barely contain his laughter as he snapped a photo before leaving again.
By the time Sherlock and Lestrade came to fetch him, three hours had passed. The tower stood 80 centimetres** tall, the cups now accompanied by stir-sticks, pens, paper clips, and small boxes from tea bags and drink packets. Lestrade stifled a laugh. "Guess we left him a little long, eh Sherlock?"
The consulting detective carefully lifted the cardboard from John's lap and set it on the table before returning to stoop by the chair. "Come on, John. Wake up." The doctor started a bit, opened his eyes, and gently set the front legs of his chair back on the floor.
"Sorry to keep Sherlock so long. Bugger solved two more cases after he gave his statement." Lestrade scratched his head awkwardly. "You really ought to finish your nap at home, though," he prodded.
John eyed the tower on the table. "That wasn't there when I closed my eyes…"
"Someone's idea of a joke," Sherlock sniffed. "They built it on your lap. I suspect Anderson, from his guilty grins in the hall."
"Seems something he'd do."
"Ready to go?"
"Let's." John stood.
"Sherlock, it's…" he glanced at his watch, "four in the bloody morning. Nowhere is going to make you lo mein at this hour."
Sherlock's eyes twinkled. "They might not for anyone else, but King's will for us. Margaret is always up now."
"Fine, but take-away. Don't bother the poor Chens more than you must."
Sherlock texted the order and the pair set out for home. Lestrade snapped a photo of the tower before turning out the light.
Sherlock and John had been investigating a particularly gruesome series of murders. The victims were lobotomized with a power drill before being repeatedly garroted until the neck was partially severed. Victims were being dumped in various alleys with little evidence for even Sherlock to go on.
Once he caught the scent, though, the investigation was frantic. John partnered on much of the legwork, being particularly good at talking to scared witnesses and grieving relatives. They'd barely eaten or slept in two days, but Sherlock finally knew who the next victim would be — a young woman reported missing that afternoon — and where the killer did his dirty work.
"Hurry, John! We nearly have him!"
John ignored his exhaustion and hastily followed.
Fortunately for the missing woman, they arrived at the slaughterhouse while the killer was making his final preparations. As he revved the power drill and angled it toward her face, John crept into the room and launched himself at the suspect from the side. His form was less than perfect, but it was an impressive tackle nonetheless, given it had been ten years since his last rugby match. The drill clattered out of the suspect's hands, and the pair hit the floor hard. John pinned the suspect while Sherlock moved in from the doorway and released the victim.
Lestrade and his team weren't far behind. Realizing he had arrived minutes too late once again, he scrubbed his hand over his face and sighed.
Sergeant Donovan gently took the victim's arm. "Miss? I'm Sally Donovan. Let's go outside and get you checked out."
Once the suspect was securely in the Yard's hands, John carefully stood and checked himself for injuries. Sherlock placed a tentative hand on his arm. "Are you alright?"
"Been better. Remind me to stretch before I tackle someone next time, OK?" Sherlock chuckled. "Right. What am I saying? You're the King of Foresight." He gave Sherlock's hand an affectionate squeeze.
"No, stretching is for idiots," Sherlock quipped, turning his hand over and squeezing John's in return. A smile flashed across his face before Anderson plowed into the room and shattered the moment.
It took yet another hour to give their statements to a constable and for John to get evaluated by an EMT, Sherlock not entirely trusting John was unharmed by his flying leap onto the suspect. John yawned as he toddled away from the scene behind Sherlock's swanning strides.
"Shall we go home?" Sherlock asked.
"Dim Sum. I'm starving."
Another half hour found them seated in a booth at King Wok enjoying plate after plate of buns, dumplings, and noodles. As the meal progressed, John found his eyelids drooping, heavy with exhaustion. He fought it valiantly, continuing to pick at the remaining food. Sherlock, lost in his reflections on the case did not notice when John stopped raising his hand to his mouth entirely and rested his head against the soft, high back of the bench.
"Would you like to take the rest home?" the waitress asked, startling Sherlock out of his reverie.
"Hm? Ah, Margaret. Yes, if we may."
"Looks like you ought to get your man home too," she winked. "I'll pack this for you, Mr. Holmes." She started to clear the dishes.
Sherlock finally looked at John, his body slumped on the bench, his mouth slack. He was quite clearly sleeping peacefully, and Sherlock wondered if he could somehow get John home without waking him.
"Nothing works, John," the detective groaned from his dramatic sprawl on the couch, not taking his arm from where it was thrown over his eyes.
John leaned forward in his chair. "Nothing at all? We tried warm milk, massage, sex, nutmeg, chamomile tea, bland food, fatty food, and cutting you off coffee. I understand narcotics are ill-advised. But really, nothing works for you? Not Ambien? Valerian? Melatonin? No strange rituals?"
"You know how I loathe repeating myself. You're not usually this stupid."
"Nothing at all?" Sherlock merely grunted. "Five days without sleep is too long, case or no." Sherlock made an agreeing sound. "Is there something that works but you're too embarrassed or scared to tell me about?" A twitch and another grunt. "When I first came back from the war, before we met, I had to put a gun in my mouth and count every night before I could sleep, and I'd wake up if it left my hand. Your cure can't be worse than that." No response that time. John walked over to the couch, stooped by Sherlock's head, and threaded a hand through his mussed curls. "Sherlock, it can be a video of Margaret Thatcher yodeling in her knickers for all I care." The detective winced, but withheld the scathing retort that was surely on the tip of his tongue. "I'll leave you to it if you like, stay out of the room until morning. It can stay your secret, so long as you actually sleep."
Sherlock flung his arm away from his face, hitting the back of the couch. "Jesus, John! It's bad enough needing to sleep at all without you pandering to me like I'm some child! And I'd rather not spend another night without your company, sleeping or not."
"Fine, it's fine," John soothed, stroking Sherlock's hair. "We'll sort it out." Sherlock emitted a frustrated whine, grabbed John's face with both hands, and kissed him to shut him up.
Hours later, Sherlock crept into his room and pulled a shoe box labeled "Emergency Insomnia Kit" from under the bed. He opened it, picked up the leather rollup, and looked wistfully at it.
No, five days is not that level of emergency, he thought.
He put it back and gingerly lifted out a brightly colored DVD case instead. He replaced the box under the bed and returned to the living room.
John raised an eyebrow, looking over his laptop from the foot of the couch. "Clangers***, Sherlock?"
"You promised," he grumbled. "Anything if I could sleep."
John chuckled. "This is your embarrassing secret remedy? I would have thought it would be something weird, like having me wear a dress and pretend I was your nanny. Though really even that's more pedestrian than I'd expect to embarrass you."
Sherlock visibly relaxed.
"Come on then. You have your duvet?"
That earned him a scowl. "We went over this earlier."
John looked at him hard, Sherlock's responses all day slotting into place. "Mycroft was an absolute ass to you when you were growing up, wasn't he?"
"He still is."
Sherlock put in the DVD and set it to loop. Experience had taught him that when the whistles stopped, he would wake and be unable to return to sleep until they resumed. As it started to play, he laid down on the couch, dragging the duvet over himself and tucking his feet into John's side.
John tucked his own blanket around Sherlock's feet and got comfortable with his laptop again. He stroked Sherlock's calf idly while he read. As he listened to his friend and lover's breaths become slow and even, he relaxed as well. He had been quite concerned about Sherlock's days of sleeplessness, and he had been distant in his restless fervor. Soon, the most interesting and hilarious blog posts couldn't keep his eyes from drooping.
The couch was really too small for both of them to lie down together, but John managed to curl around Sherlock's legs, head pillowed on one thigh. And if he too was soothed to sleep by the Clangers, he wasn't telling.