It wasn’t often Sherlock and I went out drinking. In fact, it was a rarity. Between Sherlock’s antisocial tendencies and my own reluctance to have my friends and enigmatic roommate mingle over drinks, it just didn’t happen. However, that night, Sherlock was abuzz with energy resulting from his usual post-case high and was feeling claustrophobic in the flat. So, we went out.
Lestrade joined us about half an hour after our first drink, having finished the resultant paperwork. Sherlock acknowledged him with a nod then returned to observing those around us. I was connecting the trail Sherlock had left Greg figure out on his own.
“So, basically, she was a jealous ex-lover,” Lestrade summarized.
“Basically, yeah,” I agreed. Sherlock snorted from beside him, earning him a look from both Lestrade and myself.
“Much more went into it than just jealousy,” Sherlock argued.
“You’ve never been jealous before. You’ve no idea how such strong emotions can make a person act,” Greg responded.
“I understand how emotions work, Lestrade. If I did not, I would find myself at a disadvantage in this field, as I’m sure you’re quite aware.”
Taking a deep breath, Greg let the topic drop and took a sip of his beer. I wasn’t sure which was preferable, their bickering or the tense silence that followed.
It wasn’t our intention to go out to get sloshed, but when Greg proffered a drinking game, my competitive nature decided it was a good idea. Sherlock had originally scoffed at the idea, but I observed him taking delicate sips right along with us. The night kind of blurred after the next hour of small talk, of which Sherlock refused to take part in.
I was feeling pleasantly warm and intoxicated when Lestrade made his exit, claiming he had a somewhat early morning. Sherlock had given up keeping up with us in the drinking competition. His tolerance for alcohol consumption was nowhere near mine nor Greg’s and, of course, he was aware of that. His face was somewhat flushed and his eyes unfocused. He kept looking my way until I suggested we head back to the flat.
“Can we get takeaway on the way back? There’s this place that’s open late...” Sherlock’s voice was quiet and slurred.
“Yeah, sure.” I was quick to agree. He hadn’t removed his coat, but waited for me to fumble my way into my own jacket before leading us out. I do remember quite clearly Sherlock’s warm arm resting between my arm and side, perhaps holding on to keep from tripping over the pavement. Even after we had gotten the food, I held the bag in my left hand while he held onto my right arm, both gloved hands around my bicep. It was odd of him to be so affectionate. He had been smiling quite a lot since leaving the pub, between the looks of concentration over uneven pavement. I kind of remember him humming a tune of sorts as we approached our flat.
The stairs seemed to give the consulting detective some trouble. I had to grab the collar of his coat with my free hand to pull him up the last few steps before he fell backward, causing a fit of giggles on both our parts. With some difficulty, he pulled his scarf off without strangling himself and hung his coat up by the door. By the time he’d managed that, I had our containers set out with cutlery.
“Alright?” I asked as I fell into one of the kitchen chairs. Sherlock struggled with the buttons on his suit jacket for a few moments before looking up and nodding. He finally got the jacket open and off then sat to work on rolling his sleeves up.
“John.” Sherlock’s voice had a slight whine to it, sounding strange in the naturally deep timbre of his voice. He held out both of his arms. With a sigh, I pulled both buttons on his first sleeve open and rolled the fabric a few times then repeated on the other sleeve. “It seems as though buttons aren’t agreeing with me this evening.” He took his hands back and attacked the food in front of him as though it was his first meal in days. It probably was his first decent meal that week.
“Have you eaten at all today?”
“No time,” Sherlock said between bites.
“Right.” I retrieved a glass from the top cabinet, filled it with water, then slid it over to him. “Drink up.”
I’d like to think the look I got was one of gratitude but that’s unlikely. He downed half of the glass down almost immediately.
“I seem to have misjudged the amount of alcohol,” he paused for another quick bite, “I drank.”
“You’ll be fine. Just keep drinking water.”
“Everything’s fuzzy and indistinguishable. Like that spot on your cuff. I can’t tell if that’s from this morning or something you’ve just done.” He sounded slightly frustrated by this revelation but lost interest in favor of his food. I refilled the glass for him.
“It’s not surprising. You trying to keep up with a drinking competition on an empty stomach? Not your brightest move.”
“I wasn’t—“ Sherlock sounded indignant. His flushed cheeks grew darker. “You lost anyways,” he grumbled.
“I usually do.”
He gave me a confused look before returning his full attention to the food. It only took him another five minutes before he was pushing the container away with a quiet groan.
“Stomach hurting?” I asked, slightly amused. He nodded with a troubled look. “Drink up.” While he did so, I retrieved a tablet of the antiemetic we had in the cabinet. Before I could refill his glass a third time, he had swallowed the tablet without any difficulty.
“Come on. Up you get.” I offered to help him out of the chair, but he insisted on doing it himself. Once in his room, he began pulling at the buttons on his shirt in such an uncoordinated way, I took pity on him and helped him. By this time, I was already feeling the pleasant warmth of intoxication beginning to ebb away. He fell ungracefully onto his bed. I had to pull him up by the front of his shirt then smack his hands away to finish untucking and unbuttoning it.
“Second...yeah, second drawer,” Sherlock mumbled before I had to ask. Leaving him to lie back, I retrieved a clean pair of pyjamas to set beside him. With a sigh, I pushed his hands away from his trousers. It was much easier to remove his shoes and trousers while he laid mostly still on his bed. I was briefly thankful he’d decided not to go pant-less that day. He was at least able to pull his own pyjama bottoms up, though I had to help him with the top.
“I know you probably don’t spend much time in bed, but it’s usually more comfortable if you lie the other way.” I sat down next to him to catch my breath for a moment. Undressing and dressing the lanky man had certainly took more energy than I thought it would.
“How’s your stomach?”
“That isn’t an answer.”
“Still hurts,” he mumbled and turned onto his side, away from me, and pulled his feet up towards his body. “Headache, too.”
“Too nauseous to move.”
I most certainly did not roll my eyes. “Turn over.” I grabbed a pillow from behind me and set it over my lap. “Come on.” I patted the pillow. He looked over his shoulder at me sceptically. “C’mon.”
He slowly turned over and plopped his head down on the pillow on my lap. The rest of his body stretched languidly along the rest of the length of his bed.
“You’re being nice,” Sherlock murmured, sounding confused.
“Making sure you don’t asphyxiate in your own vomit.”
“Not that drunk,” he said with a quiet sigh. I rested my right hand on his shoulder while my left touched his head gently. The ends of his soft curls wrapped around my fingers. He took a deep breath and let it out in a sigh. “Mum used to…” he said quietly. I didn’t hear the rest of his mumbling but got the idea and ran my fingertips over his scalp, massaging gently. The curls didn’t tangle, rather my fingers ran through his silky hair quite easily. “ ‘s good,” he all but moaned.
“Don’t get too comfortable. Sit up a bit.” I pushed his dead weight up enough to bring the glass to his lips. “Drink.” I didn’t really give him much of an option, but he took quite a few sips. He lowered his head back onto the pillow and pulled my left hand back to his head. After setting the glass back down, I ran my fingers from his fringe to the back of his head. When I pushed the hair against the grain, he shivered slightly and I heard him inhale sharply. He shifted to lay mostly on his front while he sprawled his arms over me, one around my backside and the other over top of my lap.
It didn’t take much time at all before his breathing evened out and his entire body relaxed. I watched his sleeping form for quite some time before I even attempted to shift him over. I don’t believe he’s a heavy sleeper, however, he was rather reluctant to let go of me or to move over. It took some time and inventive manoeuvring to untangle myself from his grasp but eventually I was successful.
I remember it being quite late by the time I got up to my room, into pyjamas myself, and practically collapsed into my own bed.