Sherlock was lying on the sofa, already in his dressing gown in the mid-afternoon – or more precisely again in dressing gown – his head turned upside down on the armrest. His eyes were fixed on the grey London outside, visible through the narrow window of the lounge. Rain was beating against the pane in a frenetic ballet, and the sky darkened by the clouds dived the flat in obscurity. His glance sometimes turned aside to the rain drops which slid on the polished glass.
He hadn't moved for hours. The detective had no stimulating investigation to get his teeth into and, inevitably, he was bored. To death. He left a tired sigh and turned around on his side, holding up his barefoot against pillows. Suddenly, he heard the front door open without warning, and recognized John's steps on the stairs. He entered the room a few seconds later, his arms so full that Sherlock couldn't see his face.
« No need to help me, I'll cope alone », John grumbled, heading for the kitchen table where he dropped his packages with an evident relief.
« Where were you ? » asked Sherlock with a feigned indifference, still limp in his sofa.
John turned around towards the detective, still out of breath, and look surprised.
« Went shopping for Christmas. It's December 23. »
Sherlock raised an eyebrow and the doctor looked heavenward.
« Christmas, Sherlock », John mocked. « December, presents, fir tree, Jesus Christ's birth ? »
« Don't take me for a fool, I know what Christmas is. »
« I am speaking to someone who doesn't know the existence of the solar system. »
« For who ? »
« Sorry ? »
« You bought presents. For who ? »
John opened his mouth then closed it, conscious that he had only a few friends and no family in London. But Sherlock, being who he was, didn't always conform to social niceties, like not reminding someone of a lack of friends or family , for example. He opened his mouth once again, hesitating between anger, resignation and, regardless, amusement for the completely inappropriate attitude of his flatmate.
« Well, for my parents, for Harry, for Sarah, and also for you, but I'm not really sure anymore, you big idiot ! »
Sherlock's eyes got bigger, really surprised by his answer. He got up lazily from the divan and rejoined him in the kitchen, his glance glittering with the brightness of curiosity peculiar to the detective.
« Really ? And what is it ? »
« You're not supposed to ask for it. »
Sherlock continued to look at him fixedly, and the doctor finally said with a perfectly serious tone :
« A wire's insect which skips when we wind it. »
« You're laughing at me. »
John looked him straight in the eyes.
« Yes. »
He turned away smiling to hang up his jacket that was draped over a chair. He was about to carry his colorfully wrapped packages to his room – he wasn't naive enough to claim to hide them while he lived under the same roof as Sherlock – when the detective stopped him in his tracks.
« It's a mobile phone. »
« How can you... » Began John, offended, turning over to face his roommate.
Sherlock held up the receipt from John's shopping, a smile at the corner of his lips, that famous superior and mocking smile which he often wore.
« Sherlock ! » Scolded the doctor, snatching the receipt out Sherlock's hands, grinning in spite of himself.
« It cost more than £150 », Sherlock pointed out.
For a brief moment, John seemed guilty, but this expression left his face very quickly.
« Some... Acquaintances... had some debts to pay off. »
« Oh. »
Sherlock, silent, watched John taking his packages one by one up to his room. Then, suddenly, he took to his heels and disappeared in his chamber. He reappeared some seconds later, in suit, caught his coat and quickly put it on over his clothes.
« I'm going to, hem. Do some shopping for Mrs Hudson », he said to John in a loud voice from the doorstep, and he disappeared.
The doctor felt his lips stretching in a smile. He approached the window which overlook the avenue, crossing his arms over his body to scare away the icy air of the 221B Baker Street. Night began to fall, docilely, on the streets of London. He saw Sherlock cross the road quickly before disappearing in the darkness.
John had moved into this apartment several weeks ago now, with the strangest man he has ever met – but also the most charismatic. He couldn't deny the fact that he, John Watson, was often secondary when he was with Sherlock, but it didn't annoy him.
After his return from the war, John had felt an immense and painful space settling down inside him. Mycroft was right. He missed the war. And although this idea was sometimes terribly disturbing, he couldn't get it out of his head. It wasn't the death, nor the destruction, but the adrenalin – that kick that helped him during air attacks, crazy races to avoid machine-guns' firing, the beating of his heart giving rhythm to each of his steps and the uncertainty of the next day. This adrenalin which made him feel alive, more than anything else. And Sherlock restored it to him. He had felt important again, useful, and exalted, when they ran together in alleys of London.
And he wouldn't change that for anything in the world.