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Sleepless

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John hasn’t been in the blogging business for weeks and weeks, of course. Not since the the meet-and-greet with Moriarty. Not since the explosion. All that pain and all those painkillers muddled his mind and numbed his fingers for a bit. But he’s back to writing now. Still a form of therapy that soothes him—although he's stubborn enough that he won't admit it to Ella.

Now—weirdly—it’s Sherlock who manages to sleep most nights. Morphine dreams are a good escape from his waking obsession: blocking Moriarty’s next move. Check. Then on to check mate.

John’s the one who can’t sleep since they left the hospital. So he sits in front of his laptop and writes. No crime. No murder. Not even any real drama. Just little descriptions of the villages in Afghanistan. A fond memory of Harry before she started drinking. A comic version of himself and Mike Stamford at Bart’s. Too obvious a rip-off of Laurel and Hardy, but it makes him laugh. Good to laugh again.

Around 3 or 4 a.m. each morning John makes cups of tea and sets out some biscuits or a few slices of Mrs. Hudson’s poppy seed cake on a plate and takes it around to the officers Lestrade has posted 24/7 at the front and back entrances of 221. He’s sure Mycroft has his own team watching too, probably on the roof and in that car that’s always parked at the far corner of Baker Street, near the newsagent's.

Tonight, John accidentally drops a cup while preparing the pre-dawn snack. Sherlock wakes up to the crash and subsequent cursing when the spilled tea burns John’s bare feet.

“What’s happening? John? John!” Sherlock flies out of the bedroom, all long limbs and blinking eyes, adjusting to the bright, naked bulb in the kitchen. His voice is loud, demanding immediate reassurance. Needing an “all clear” so he can shut off the red alert and sirens in his head.

“It’s fine, Sherlock. Nothing’s wrong—just clumsiness. You can go back to sleep.”

Sherlock’s breathing slows, and he feigns a relaxed pose. “Okay. Nothing's wrong. Good. . . . But I’m awake now. I’ll keep you company, if you’re going to stay up.”

John smiles. The morphine has taken away some of his friend's sharp edges, if only temporarily. He sweeps up the shards of the broken cup, then goes back to preparing the coppers’ treat. Sherlock walks into the dark sitting room, lit only by the pale glow of John’s laptop screen. He peers out of the window into the shadowy street below. He watches for a few minutes, then asks, “Is Lestrade always out there?”

John finishes laying out the biscuits before he moves next to Sherlock, wrapping an arm around his waist. “Is he out there? I didn’t see him.”

“That’s because you don’t pay attention. You see, but . . ,” Sherlock says with a touch of default impatience. No need to finish the sentence. He brushes his lips across John’s forehead by way of apology, and adds, “Look at that dark blue car at the end of the street. Can’ t you see a bit of silver hair at the window? And just now—see, the man’s lighting a cigarette. Since I’ve been standing here he’s lit and extinguished three. A former smoker who’s telling himself just one or two puffs isn’t cheating.” Sherlock closes his eyes and breathes deep, as if he can inhale the seductive cloud from a block away.

“Well, if that’s Lestrade’s car, then he’s been there all night, every night for the past two weeks. Car’s usually there by about midnight and it’s gone about 7 a.m. I guess he goes home for a shower before work. Huh. All this time I thought it was one of Mycroft’s guys. Maybe I’ll make him a cup of tea too? Or are you getting ready to berate and abuse him? If so, I’ll wait ‘til that’s over and maybe offer him a whisky.” John grins.

“No. Leave him be,” says Sherlock softly, pulling John away from the window and wrapping his arms tightly around the doctor, pressing their chests together, so that John can feel the quick-quick of Sherlock’s heartbeat next to his own.

“It’ s no trouble,” says John, leaning back to look up at Sherlock's eyes, still fixed on the street below. “Seems rude to just ignore him, now we know he’s out there.”

Sherlock's voice lowers until it's just a hum in John's ear. “He doesn’t want us to know it’s him. That’s why he’s in an unmarked car. He doesn’t have morphine. He’s not a writer. Doesn’t have a way of getting through the night, except to do what good detectives do: watch and wait.”

“Observing?”

“Yes.”

“Are you sure we shouldn’t invite him in? Seems really . . . well, lonely out there in the dark.” John unwraps himself from Sherlock and returns to arranging his plate of biscuits.

“I suspect he’d feel lonelier if we invited him in,” says Sherlock, walking back to the kitchen and offering John a gentle kiss on the cheek. “Go and make your deliveries, Doctor Watson, then come back and warm up the bed. We might be able to get a couple of hours of rest or come up with another way to fill the time until dawn.”

Sherlock walks into the sitting room and turns on a lamp, then steps in front of the window, placing his palm against the glass for a few seconds.

Then he turns off the lamp, unplugs John’s laptop, and goes back to the bedroom. The story of Mike and John’s attempt to move a piano will have to be concluded tomorrow.

 

Lestrade lights another cigarette and turns the radio up a little louder.