It was raining, had been most of the day and into the evening, the whispering beyond the walls and windows sounding like one continuous ocean wave that never quite reached the shore. The flat was full of wavering shadows due to the lights from Baker Street below bleeding in through the rain-covered windows. A small goose-necked lamp with a green shade made a soft area of light on the table by Sherlock’s laptop—still open, but gone into sleep mode—and the faint green glow on the ceiling was an eerily interesting counterpoint to the rippling yellowish light from outside.
Soft music played, filling the corners of the room without overflowing them, just barely on a level with the susurrus of the rain outside. It was the sort of music without lyrics, instrumentals only, never intended as the main focus, but meant as background accompaniment.
John sat on the sofa, head resting against the upper rim of the backrest, wearing trousers and button-down, shoes kicked off under the table to leave his feet in a pair of thick socks. His eyes were closed, but he wasn’t asleep, though he was quite still except for the steady movements of his right hand. His blunt-tipped fingers slowly combed through the wealth of dark hair belonging to the man whose head rested in John’s lap.
Sherlock was stretched out on the sofa, long neck supported by John’s right thigh, the back of his skull cradled in the dip between that and John's left thigh. He wore one of his old sleep-shirts, favourite pyjama bottoms, and his toes were bare as he curled and uncurled them against the far arm of the sofa. His eyes were closed, as well, but he wasn’t asleep, either; save for the slow kneading of his toes against the worn fabric of the sofa, he was also quite still, long fingers interlaced atop his midriff.
John spoke in a low, easy voice, barely above the ambient sounds already present, “Any better?”
Sherlock gave a humming sound, more an acknowledgement that he’d been spoken to than an answer, but after a handful of seconds, not quite a minute, he did answer in a near-whisper, “Some.”
“The paracetamol should have kicked in by now, so you ought to be feeling more relief soon,” John assured him in the same gentle tone. All the while, his fingers never stopped in their slow motions, carding through Sherlock’s hair, smoothing it away from his pale face.
Another hum of agreement, but no words from Sherlock. His breathing was slow and even, nearly down to the rhythm of sleep, toes doing their anemone-like dance in slow counterpoint to the tempo of John’s fingers gently brushing through the almost-curls and whorls atop Sherlock's head.
A soft smile slowly came into existence on John’s mouth and he opened his eyes, looking down at Sherlock kindly. “Even once it starts working, I’ll keep doing this as long as you want me to,” he whispered. “I don’t mind.”
Sherlock’s lips curved slightly into a brief ghost of a smile, dissipating almost at once, and he took a slightly deeper breath before letting it out gradually. After another few moments passed, measured in slow heartbeats, aimless toe-curls, and a distant rumble of thunder, Sherlock replied in a mere trace of a voice that John only just heard, “Thank you, John.”
This time John didn’t speak, only gave a quiet sub-vocal acknowledgment of his own, smiling a little more and nodding—though Sherlock’s eyes weren’t open to see. Then he let his head fall back again, eyes closing once more as his fingers continued in their gentle but steady motions, running over and over through the silky strands of Sherlock’s hair.