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The days John works in the clinic, called in for an over-abundance of colds, flus and sprained wrists, are fewer than his financial state would like, but more often than his aching shoulder and tired back prefer. In cases where they are short staffed and overwhelmed with sicknesses, he returns home with pressure behind his temples and heaviness in his body.

On such a day, he steps into the flat to find Sherlock sprawled across the couch with hands steepled beneath his chin, eyes fixed on the ceiling and far-off. He doesn’t respond to John’s greeting or footsteps upon the stairs; when John looks closely, he notes how the detective’s pupils constrict, eyes shifting in slow movements, as if reading invisible text. He recognizes this as Sherlock deep in his mind, sorting and deleting facts and knowledge, and leaves him to it.

He prepares himself a cup of tea; sips at the scalding liquid. Standing in the sitting room, he watches Sherlock for a moment, taking in the small expressions that ripple across the other man’s face as he delves deeply within his mental records.

A deep sigh lifting his chest, John drops down in front of the sofa; pushes the coffee table away with his feet and leans his shoulders back into the cushions. Letting his head fall back, top of his skull brushing against the side of Sherlock’s hips, he stares at the ceiling as well. The angle takes pressure off his shoulder, and he often sits like this, though this is the first time Sherlock has occupied the space in such a way.

John closes his eyes and sips his tea. Setting it aside, he loosens his arms and legs, letting his body sink into the edge of the couch and the floor, hands resting light in his lap. His attention strays, focus drifting, and finds himself hovering at the edge of a doze.

Still far-off, he slowly comes to realize that Sherlock is moving, shifting his legs down on either side of John’s shoulders. He lifts John’s torso with gentle hands; slides down so he too is on the floor, John’s head pillowed on his lap.

Startled and a little taken aback, John stiffens and sucks in a breath when the rigidity tweaks at tense muscles of neck. Sherlock makes a soft noise, somewhere between a shushing sound and a scold, and begins to slowly comb his fingers through John’s hair.

John feels the stiffness recede from his body, and he settles into the solid warmth of Sherlock’s legs beneath his head. They rest in a long moment of silence, John with his eyes closed, Sherlock with his fingers brushing through silvery-blonde strands of hair.

Gradually, John opens his mouth; outlines the struggles of the day and the moments where it was a struggle not to laugh at insane health concerns. Sherlock hums and chuckles in the right spots, a solid testament to his careful listening, and they let the afternoon slip away around them.