It should bother John that for the past six months or so, more nights than not, he's awoken at some ungodly hour by a mad genius crawling into his bed and stealing all of his covers. It should bother him, but it doesn't. It bothers him so little, in fact, that he hardly even notices it anymore, except to steal enough of the duvet back that his arse isn't exposed to the chilly night air.
Usually (and god, how weird is it that he can apply the word 'usually' to Sherlock letting himself into John's bed), Sherlock just fidgets with his pillow for a moment before dropping right off to sleep.
No, tonight, after John steals back half of the duvet, Sherlock sticks his absolutely freezing feet between John's ankles and John's eyes fly open at the sensation of blocks of ice on his skin. He's gearing up to let loose a profanity-filled reprimand when Sherlock speaks.
"I abhor society's need to stick a label on every little thing," he says, his voice sounding overly loud in the silence of the room. He's speaking mostly into the pillow, his eyes closed and face relaxed, though his body is tensed as if for flight.
"I know," John says, stifling a yawn. It's too early to be having this sort of conversation, especially in bed. Especially when they don’t talk about being in bed together. "What's brought all this on at," he cranes his neck to see the alarm clock on the nightstand behind Sherlock’s head, "half two in the morning?"
Sherlock is silent for long enough that John's convinced he's not going to answer and is therefore jerked out of a comfortable doze when Sherlock finally speaks. "I keep thinking about what that horrid woman said."
John doesn't have to ask who Sherlock is talking about, despite his vague description and the fact that he uses the phrase 'horrid woman' to describe most women he doesn't like, including (but not limited to) Sally Donovan, Mycroft's ever-nameless PA, the woman at the newsagent, the barmaid at their local, occasionally John's sister, and even more occasionally Sherlock's own mother. He remembers just as well as Sherlock the words Lestrade's prime suspect (and eventual arrestee) had spewed at them earlier.
"Thought you didn't care what other people think of you?" John says, forcing his eyes open to lessen the possibility of falling asleep in the middle of the conversation. It's happened once before and it's not like Sherlock needs the ammunition for when he goes on his next insult-filled rampage against the world at large and John in particular.
"I don't," Sherlock snaps, but his eyes are still closed, which means he doesn't want to run the risk of meeting John's eyes, which means that he's trying to hide something he doesn't want John to know.
"Then why is what she said bothering you so much?"
Sherlock finally opens his eyes, but doesn't meet John's, opting instead to study the weave of the duvet. "I couldn't care less that she believes that homophobic drivel, but you care," he says. "You've no interest in men in general or me in particular, which you have a habit of making quite clear whenever the subject is raised, however tangentially. You would've done earlier, but the woman was obviously half out of her mind and not worth your time."
"I'm not particularly fussed one way or the other," Sherlock barrels on, and it's a blatant lie if John's ever heard one, since Sherlock is clearly fussed right now. "However, I can't afford for you to become distracted enough--"
"--that the work suffers in any way. Nor do I wish--"
"--for our living arrangement to be disrupted."
"Sherlock, stop," John finally manages to get out, mostly owing to the hand he's got pressed over Sherlock's still moving mouth. He can't tell what the man is trying to say, but he'd applaud his determination to say it if that didn't involve removing his hand. "If I take my hand away, will you keep your mouth shut? Nod yes or no."
The look on Sherlock's face could probably strip paint, but he does grudgingly nod his head. It's a strange looking gesture when you're horizontal, John thinks. He removes his hand slowly, ready to slap it over Sherlock's mouth again at the first sign of vocalization, but the other man remains surprisingly silent.
"Sherlock, where are you right now?" John asks and Sherlock's paint-stripping look has nothing on the look the man is throwing him right now. "Short form answer, please."
"In bed," he answers, the you idiot implied.
"Yours," Sherlock says slowly, as if he's working out differential equations in his head concurrently with their conversation. John wouldn't put it past him.
"You and I are in the same bed at nearly three in the morning. We've slept in the same bed most nights for months now and I've never once said anything about that," John says, watching Sherlock's face carefully, hoping to see the other man get it because he really doesn't want to have to spell everything out and get all touchy-feely with his ridiculous flatmate in the middle of the night.
Except Sherlock still looks completely lost, which is not a good look on him. John sighs, wondering what he could have possibly done in a previous life to end up here.
"Look, things've been different since you got back, yeah? And this?" He gestures vaguely with one hand, encompassing the both of them and the bed and the entire situation. "This is okay, Sherlock. I don't pretend to understand what goes through your head, but I don't mind if you need this."
"You weren't bothered by what that woman said?" Sherlock asks, actually asks, like he doesn't already know the answer. John wonders if maybe he doesn't.
"Seeing as how she was clearly insane and neither of us is doing anything to the other's arse, then no." He pauses and then says, "You're my friend, Sherlock. That's why it bothers me when people, people who aren't insane and in the process of being arrested, automatically assume that we're something else."
"I've been given to believe that normal friends don't," Sherlock pauses for a moment, clearly trying to figure out how to say what he wants to say without John shoving him bodily from the bed, "do this." He copies John's gesture, somehow managing to encapsulate not only their current circumstances but also their entire acquaintance into it.
I wonder how he manages to do that, John thinks before forcibly pushing that thought to the back of his mind to focus on their current conversation. It really is much too early to be having an emotionally fraught conversation with anyone, let alone Sherlock; John can't be blamed for any wandering thoughts.
"Yes, well, when have we ever been normal?" John asks, the last word almost lost to a yawn. "Now, if we're done with our emotional crisis slash middle of the night bonding, I'd like to get a bit more sleep before the sun comes up."
"Sunrise isn't for another four hours, John," Sherlock says, sounding more like himself than he has for this entire conversation. John almost smiles, but he doesn't want to encourage bad behavior, so he does his best to suppress it. He's not sure he succeeds.
"Go to sleep, Sherlock."
"Good night," John cuts him off and pointedly closes his eyes and pretends not to notice Sherlock's fingers pressed against his wrist in the space between their bodies.
"Just so you know, despite the fact that I find myself endlessly fascinated with you, I've no interest in your arse whatsoever," Sherlock says and John takes his pillow and whacks Sherlock in the face with it and smiles almost against his will when Sherlock lets out a surprised laugh.
"We'll see who's laughing when I smother you in your sleep," John mock-grumbles, punching his pillow back into shape before collapsing back onto it, still trying to fight his smile.
"I'm fairly certain you no longer possess the requisite upper body strength to--"
"Oh my god, just go to shut up and go to sleep."
And, will wonders never cease? Sherlock actually listens.