“You really should stop nicking my things, you know,” Lestrade reprimanded lightly as he stepped out onto the roof of his building, having gone in search of the intruder into his flat who had the gall to use the last of his tea before abandoning the home, leaving the locks undone in his place. “People are going to talk.”
Sherlock snorted, mid-drag on what looked like his third cigarette, and said, “People already do.”
It was true enough. John teased Sherlock often about his well-used married to my work mantra - “You could have just said his name, Sherlock, it’s not like I care! It’s all fine, remember?” - and Mrs. Hudson had given Lestrade a key not long after Sherlock and John moved into Baker Street - “He won’t ever take the initiative, dear, but I know he’d want you to have it. Makes those late-night encounters go a bit smoother when the landlady doesn’t have to let you in, hm?”
Lestrade sighed as he took a seat next to Sherlock and held out his hand. Sherlock pulled the stolen warrant card out of his pocket and slapped it into Lestrade’s open palm. He had noticed, too late, that Sherlock had strolled off with the item some hours before, after closing a case involving a duck, an heiress’s murder, and a very irritated cat.
“That’s what you get for turning your back on me."
“Can’t pay attention to you all the time, sunshine,” Lestrade said as he pocketed the warrant card
“Mmm. Pity.” Sherlock paused to take a drag on the cigarette. He blew out a stream of smoke; Lestrade plucked the cigarette from his fingers and brought it to his own lips. “Unkind, Lestrade."
“Didn’t your mother ever teach you it was rude not to share?”
“She also taught me that a man’s worth lies in his bank account, rather than in his mind. I don’t think I’d do well to take life lessons from her.” Sherlock took the cigarette back from him. “Anyway, you’re supposed to have quit.”
Lestrade snorted. “I’ve got nearly two decades on you, lad. It doesn’t much matter what I do to myself right now.”
Sherlock said nothing. He finished off the cigarette and ground it into the gravel they were sitting on. An aeroplane roared away miles above them, heading east, a tiny pinprick of light set against the dark blanket of night.
“John on a date?” Lestrade asked at last.
“Oh.” Lestrade was silent a moment, thinking. It wasn’t often anymore that Sherlock turned up voluntarily at his flat, not when John was around to irritate. Conversations such as this had been rare to begin with, usually inspired by the night and sometimes the drugs. But those dark days were years behind them; he couldn’t think why Sherlock would call on him now. “Er... Hit a dead end with your case, then?”
“I haven’t any cases on.”
“I see,” Lestrade said, even though he didn’t. “Well, don’t expect me to go out and arrange a murder for you, then. You’ll just have to find a nice hobby to occupy your time with until something interesting comes up.”
“Dull,” Sherlock grumbled, and Lestrade laughed. But Sherlock didn’t join in and so he quickly sobered.
“What’s all this, then?” Lestrade asked quietly. “Not that I’m not pleased to see you but, well, usually you come over with a purpose.”
Sherlock rested his forearms on his knees and leaned back against the wall. Lestrade remained where he was, cross-legged and stiff-backed, feeling Sherlock’s penetrating gaze on him even though he couldn’t see it. Then a warm hand came to rest on the outside of his jacket, lingering just between his shoulder blades.
“Your back, again?”
“Yeah,” Lestrade said without turning, because there were knots of tension in his neck and spine; sitting still tended to alleviate the discomfort. “And you’re deflecting.”
Three cold fingertips pressed into the skin on the back of his neck, fitting themselves underneath the collar of his shirt. Lestrade let out an involuntary hiss, but the digits warmed quickly against his skin. Sherlock then slowly began to knead his flesh, pinpointing and eliminating the tight knots of muscle in a methodical fashion. Lestrade grunted, partly in pain but mostly in contentment, as the fingers worked their way from his neck to his spine to the small of his back, melting away the stress even through his layers of clothing.
“I can’t sleep,” Sherlock said as he worked out a particularly stubborn knot at the base of Lestrade’s spine with his knuckles. He gripped Lestrade’s shoulder with his other hand in order to provide more leverage.
“Why not?” Lestrade murmured, lulled into a stupor by Sherlock’s strong musician’s fingers. He tried to kick his mind back into gear, but that was proving difficult to do with the way Sherlock was manipulating his muscles.
The silence dragged on a beat too long. Lestrade drew a heavy breath of cool night air through his nose in an effort to return to the present and glanced over his shoulder, but Sherlock kept his eyes fixed resolutely on his fingers, watching as they worked.
“Hey.” Lestrade slowly dislodged himself from Sherlock’s hands, ignoring the twinge in his back as he turned to look at the other man fully. “What’s wrong?”
The bruised and haunted eyes told him everything.
“Nightmares.” At Sherlock’s nod, Lestrade cursed and asked, “For how long?”
“Oh, Sher.” He brushed a thumb across Sherlock’s brow and then withdrew his hand. “What about?”
Sherlock shook his head, looking away, and Lestrade knew better than to pursue it. He unzipped his jacket and peeled it off while Sherlock turned his attention once again to the sky, and before the other man could react Lestrade had draped it over his shoulders. The jacket hung loosely on Sherlock’s slight frame, making it appear as though he was a child who had got into his father’s closet. He lifted a questioning eyebrow at Lestrade.
“You looked cold,” Lestrade said, which was only half the truth. Sherlock had an inhuman tolerance for the cold and never seemed to suffer its bite. But there had been more than one occasion, in the years before John, when Lestrade had come home to find Sherlock passed out on his sofa and wrapped in his worn leather jacket. Lestrade had misplaced jumpers over the years that he had a sneaking suspicion were in Sherlock’s possession, and once he’d even gone to Baker Street one morning to seek Sherlock out for a case only to find the detective wearing his pajama bottoms - though Lestrade hadn’t been particularly keen on finding out how Sherlock had pulled that one off. And while he didn’t quite understand Sherlock’s need for his clothing, he knew from experience that Sherlock always slept better on those nights when he wore the leather jacket.
Sherlock pulled the jacket tighter around him and nodded in thanks. Lestrade scooted back and leaned against the wall. Their shoulders brushed, and Sherlock didn’t pull away.
“Are you staying here tonight?”
“Might as well, then. It’s nearly two. I can make up the sofa.” Lestrade freed his left arm from where it was pressed against Sherlock’s body and held it up in silent offering; Sherlock slid closer and he slipped it around the detective’s shoulders. Sherlock sagged against him almost instantly, all tension disappearing from his limbs until Lestrade was left with nothing but a bone-tired man and dead weight pressed into his side. “Christ, lad, when did you last sleep?”
“Four days ago.”
“Jesus.” Lestrade shook his head. “Right, you’re staying on that sofa until at least noon tomorrow. And then I’m force-feeding you the largest breakfast you’ve ever seen in your life. Got it?”
Sherlock was several minutes in responding; so long that Lestrade started to believe he had truly fallen asleep.
“It does, you know.”
“Does what?” Lestrade asked in confusion, unsure how his question had warranted that reply.
“Matter.” Sherlock sighed heavily through his nose. “It matters what you do to yourself.”
It took Lestrade a moment to recall their previous line of conversation; by the time he did, Sherlock was already asleep against his shoulder.
“Yeah,” he muttered, carding thick fingers through Sherlock’s wild hair and dropping a kiss on top of his head, “I worry about you, too. So sleep well.”