"Sherlock!", John called. "Sherlock!"
He sighed at the lack of response from his flatmate. He had locked himself in his room again, and if John was to guess, he'd say that he hadn't opened the lights at all, or eaten anything all day, or communicated with anyone in any way. He himself was sat on the living room, browsing through their emails to check for potential cases to spend his time so as not to feel bored (hadn't worked), he'd even gone out for a walk, but when he came back, he was entirely positive that Sherlock hadn't left his room at all. He sighed again, pushing himself up from his chair and making his way to Sherlock's room. He stopped outside, trying to figure out what it was exactly that Sherlock was doing in there all day, or, alternatively, trying to establish whether he was just being Sherlock or had actually died hours ago.
"What?", asked Sherlock, voice muffled from the closed door separating them. Okay, so not dead, John thought. Also not out of his mind since he knew I was here. He cleared his throat and knocked slightly.
"Sherlock?", but he received no response, so he spoke up again. "Are you planning on staying there for the rest of the day?", again, no response. He sighed as he imagined what Sherlock would be thinking, Of course, or, more accurately, Obviously, he'd say. Thinking about it, however, he probably would be thinking about some kind of case or conspiracy theory at the moment instead, and would not have space in his mind palace for a proper response to give to John. Knowing well enough he wasn't to respond any time soon, he knocked again.
"Sherlock? I'm hungry, it's fairly late, can you please communicate?"
"Eat", simply said Sherlock, and John furrowed his eyebrows, heel of his foot tapping irritatingly against the floor. "Stop doing that. It's distracting"
John scoffed. "Oh, I'm distracting you, am I", he muttered, not interested in picking a fight at this hour. "Sherlock, have you eaten anything today?", he asks instead, knowing fully well the answer but still feeling the need to express his concern. He can hear something shuffling from the inside, and after a few moments it stops, as if it never happened.
"No", Of course not, John thinks. He knew for a fact that Sherlock hadn't been eating or sleeping properly, that he'd increased the number of nicotine patches per day, and that he was slowly but surely slipping away again, and he knew he had to stop it from happening, but he didn't know how. He looked around, trying to think of something to say, when the door in front of him suddenly opened wide, forcing his gaze to lock with the taller man standing in behind it.
"I need to think. I can't think if you're standing there trying to make small talk", he says, raising his eyebrows just like he always does when irritated. John watched him, observed him, since Sherlock so kindly had reminded him how stupid not observing made him, and crossed his arms around his chest. His hair was messy to say the least, oily curls sticking to his slightly dump forehead, eyebrows edged, eyes icy blue and piercing but looking bored as always, cheeks hollowed in and lips tightly shut. His jaw was clenched, neck sweating, and his purple button-up shirt with the first few buttons open. With a peak inside his room, he could see it looking clean and untouched, as if Sherlock hadn't been there all day, and as predicted, the lights were all closed.
"I'm going to make a deduction", says John. He firmly locks his eyes with Sherlock's own and raises an eyebrow. "You haven't showered in about three days, you haven't eaten anything since yesterday afternoon when I forced you to have a bite, you haven't talked to anyone except me right now and you have been laying down trying to keep yourself busy inside your mind palace all day"
"Oh, brilliant, you are not blind. Was worried there for a second", the look of pride on John's face immediately fell. Of course, it was Sherlock Holmes we're talking about, Of course he made himself look stupid again. Damn him and his perfectly functioning brain and his massive intellect. "The deduction would have been to figure out why I did all of those things, John. Now, would you mind?", he says and motions down the hallway and away from his room.
"Yes, I would very much mind. I may not be Sherlock Holmes but I know when something is wrong and I am inclined to help you. Now come on", replies John, and Sherlock rolls his eyes but complies any way, stretching his back as he closes the door behind him. They walk down the hallway, with John occasionally checking up on him to make sure he's following.
"Is this necessary?", he asks with a sigh, and John gives him a look that says Shut up, Sherlock. "Where are you taking me?"
"Kitchen", only replies John and Sherlock makes a sound.
"Very interesting choice of place, I must admit", and cue The Look again, so Sherlock looks away without a further word. When they do make it to the kitchen, John sits on one of the chairs and Sherlock looks at him with that Sherlock smile that John feels like punching every single time. Sometimes, he wants to cherish it, take a picture and frame it, but that's rarely. No, John just mostly wants to punch it.
"Why are you looking at me like that?"
"What am I doing here?"
"You are helping me decide what we'll be having for supper", John explains, and as soon as he sees Sherlock's mouth opening, he gives him the look again as a warning to not say a word. 'I'm not hungry', he'd say for sure. Or maybe, 'Digesting slows down the thinking process. I need to think'. He may not have deduced it from his appearance or the very specific way he combs his hair or blows his nose, but he knows him long enough to understand that he is treating himself poorly and needs help in doing so. "I reckon soup", he says, knowing fully well that Sherlock wasn't going to suggest anything, no matter how hard he tried.
Sherlock nodded and turned around, making his way back to his room. John quickly stood up and went after him.
"Where do you think you're going?"
"To my room", he simply says and marches up the stairs.
"I don't think so", John defends, and he brings his hands to his hips as he looks at Sherlock with his lips tightly shut. "You're going to help me make my trademark soup"
"If it's your trademark then what do you need help with?"
"I don't need help, but since you're offering so kindly, I could use an extra hand. Come on", he makes his way back to the kitchen and hears Sherlock groan but follow him anyway, and something about having this much control over Sherlock, The stubborn, odd, high-functioning sociopath Sherlock, made him want to grin, but he suppressed it, thinking of it as silly.
"What do I need to do?", Sherlock reluctantly asks, and the spark of amusement in John's eyes makes him regret being pulled down there for the absolutely useless reason of 'cooking', and 'eating' even more.
"Well, first of all, grab a pot, fill approximately three fourths of it with water and put it on the stove", John instructs. "Then you can turn up the heat to full"
Sherlock does as told, he takes a medium-sized pot and fills it with water, and turns up the heat when put on the stove. John observes him again, how his slim figure gently grinds on the counter, how his violinists fingers handle the pot and how his icy blues fill it with water with extreme precision, although unseen by John, whose view is blocked by broad shoulders, but John had gotten lost in them innumerable of times to know what they look like even when he can't see them. Sherlock noticed, he's sure of it, but he can't bring himself to care when the tall man turns around swiftly, and he locks eyes with him, anxiously patting his fingers on his thighs.
"Is there anything else?", he asks, and his voice is small, unsure, and he sounds and looks so young when he's not abusing his brain with complicated theories and solving crimes, and it makes a string inside John twitch with satisfaction that he's the only one who gets to see him like that.
"No, uhm-- I, uh, leave the rest to me", he stutters and coughs, and Sherlock doesn't spare him a second glance before bolting back to his room. John's fist collides with the kitchen table, feeling angry with himself that he couldn't manage to keep Sherlock entertained and out of his room for more than ten minutes, and he sighs heavily.
"Just, whatever you do, do not open the freezer!", he hears him call then, and out of pure curiosity moves to do exactly what he was told not to do. He opens the freezer, only to see--
"Sherlock! I thought you said you'd stop with the random body parts in the fridge!"
"What part of 'do not open the freezer' did you not get?", he shouts back, and John sighs once again. The benefits of living with Sherlock Holmes, he thought. You can easily turn to cannibalism. Either because of the various body parts stored in the fridge or because of the very annoying flatmate you'd have to deal with. He shrugs the thoughts off, deciding that he'd better prepare the soup.
Approximately twenty minutes later, he turns the stove off and serves the soup into two bowls. He puts them on the table, arranges them perfectly, and nervously calls for Sherlock. He didn't know why all of a sudden calling him down to have supper is such a big deal, and quite frankly it probably isn't, but it surely feels like it when Sherlock comes down with his hair even messier than before, panting. He looks up at him with his mouth agape, observes how his lips are chapped and parted with heavy breaths coming out of them and how his eyes sparkle, and he has to close his eyes to make sure his sanity is still resting well inside his head and not running off because of Sherlock fucking Holmes. He wants to ask, needs to ask what he'd been doing inside his room all this time, but he thinks he probably shouldn't and he stops himself from doing so before it's too late. He clears his throat and gestures at the table, and Sherlock immediately occupies the seat John wanted for himself, but he doesn't mind. No, with Sherlock sitting there, eyeing the food he'd prepared and scooping some of it up with his spoon, he can't possibly mind.
He sits down himself and smiles at Sherlock for a brief moment, before picking his own spoon up and testing his creation. It seemed fine for him, it was warm, salty and strong, just how John makes it, and even though it's not Sherlock's favorite, he still doesn't mind it. He thinks, he can't possibly mind if John is the one to have made it, especially if it was intended for him. A couple of minutes and a few spoons later, John looks over at Sherlock only to see him sweating alarmingly lot, shirt clinging tighter to his chest and curls glued on his forehead.
"Sherlock?", John calls, and Sherlock flinches, then looks at him. "Is everything alright?", he asks, and Sherlock's eyes widen for a split second before he forces a smile and eats more of the soup.
"Of course, yeah, everything alright, soup is great", he quickly says and gulps more of it down. His sweating gets even worse then, and he finds himself mingling with the buttons of his shirt, eager to open even more of them up in order to cool down. John observes how his smooth pale chest is glistening with sweat, how droplets dribble down from it and disappear under the the thin silky fabric that covers the lower part of his stomach, and John wishes he could follow it with his eyes even further down, or better, wishes Sherlock would just abandon the shirt and sit there shirtless, like an invitation, a promise. John wishes Sherlock was a promise he could keep.
"Interesting", Sherlock's voice suddenly echoes, and John clinches. Had he been thinking aloud? Was Sherlock able to read his stupid impulsive thoughts? Oh God, he thought, Sherlock obviously knew what he thought of him, and he was screwed. His eyes widened and he rested his sweaty palms on his jeans.
"You were thinking. About me, specifically", he explains, eyebrows raised and gaze piercing against John's own. The blond felt shivers run down his entire body at that, terrified that Sherlock was disapproving of his idiotic, Sherlock-induced thoughts, when he spoke up again. "Something is bothering you. Is it me? Of course it's me, the way you've been looking at me since I stepped foot out of my cave--"
"-- indicates slight discomfort and... secrets? Oh, I see. A secret then. What is it? Am I dying? Did Molly give you the results of the tests? Oh, what am I saying, of course I'm not dying, I would have known, then--"
"Wow, wow, wow, what tests?"
"Ask Molly, what is it John? What's your secret? Is it Moriarty? Are you dying?", Sherlock mumbles, studying John with his blue machines, savouring the look of surprise and horror on his features, knowing fully well that he was onto something, just not sure of what it was just yet. He knew John, he probably knew him better than John knew himself (definitely knew him better than John knew himself), so it was a piece of cake to figure out what's been bothering his best friend, and he swore he would figure it out. He was Sherlock bloody Holmes, he could not possibly not figure it out. At that, his eyes sparkled with bliss, and John was almost sure he could see a small lit lamp on the side of his head. Sherlock did it then, the most Sherlock thing he could have ever done, that half-smile of smugness that screamed 'massive intellect' and John hated it almost as much as he loved it. "Oh! Oh... John... of course, idiot. It's not about me, is it? It's about you"
John swallowed the bulky lump in his throat, fidgeting nervously under Sherlock's all-knowing gaze. He knew, John thought. He knew and he wasn't ever going to let him live it down. "I don't know what you're talking about", he mutters and gulps down a big spoon of soup. Now, it only tasted like poison, scratching at his neck, choking him, and he was sure Sherlock was definitely convinced now had he not been before. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
"So what is it, John? Come on, spit it out. Or don't, no, shut up, don't say anything, I have to figure it out myself"
"What-- No! Sherlock, I'm fine, can we please drop it?"
Sherlock lets his gaze linger a little longer than should have, but nods anyway, turning back to his soup. A few gulps later, he starts sweating dangerously again, and John's eyes narrow as he sets his spoon down on the wooden table.
"Alright, what's going on", he asks, but it comes out more like a statement than anything. Like a request, he thought, a demand. That's it, a demand. He was demanding Sherlock Holmes of answers. John did not know whether he should feel proud of his braveness or disappointed of his stupidity. After all, braveness was the perfect nice word to describe stupidity, as Mycroft so kindly had reminded him when he first met Sherlock years before.
"Nothing", only said Sherlock, and attempted eating more of his food, only to drop the spoon into the bowl and make a mess. Now John definitely knew something was wrong.
"Look, Sherlock. I may not be the world's only consulting detective but I know how humans work, okay? And, whether you like it or not, you're human too, and my best friend, so I know something's wrong and you better tell me now before I turn to different methods"
Sherlock raised his left eyebrow at that, challenging him. "Different methods, as in?"
"Do not forget, Sherlock, I served in the military. I know how to name every single bone of your body while breaking them"
"You were a doctor"
"I had bad days too!"
Sherlock didn't budge, staring at John with that shit-eating patience that irritated him even more. Finally, he looked down at his sweating hands and back up at John. "It's too hot", he mumbled, and John shook his head.
"What was that?"
"It's too hot", Sherlock repeated, voice firmer this time. His gaze had subconsciously darted downwards once again, and John felt another string twitch inside him as he was not able to see those mesmerising icy blues stare back at him any more. He laughed as he registered Sherlock's ridiculous answer.
"W-what?", he says in between waves of laughter, shaking back and forth. Sherlock glares at the doctor, eyebrows furrowing.
"It's too bloody hot! I think I've dehydrated!"
"Leave it, Sherlock, goddammit. Why keep eating it if it bothers you?", John smiles, features soft and hand extended towards Sherlock's bowl. He takes a good look at him, and he thinks-- that's it. It was obvious. "I am going to make another deduction", he announces, "You were hungry. Admit it"
"John, you're an idiot. You need to stop with the deductions, you clearly are not made for them"
"Okay then, genius, if not that then why?"
Sherlock sighs and stands up. "You wanted me to eat. I did not want to hurt your feelings"
"My feelings?", John scoffs in disbelief. "Since when do you care about peoples' feelings?"
The taller man grabs the half-empty bowl with shaky, damp hands and almost drops it immediately, making John rush to his side to take it from him with a glare. "Jesus, Sherlock. That hot?", and Sherlock only nods.
John proceeds with carrying both their bowls to the sink, noticing how Sherlock was fidgeting with his fingers at the exact spot he last saw him. He peers at him for a short while, trying to figure him out, but to no avail. "Tea?", he asks, snapping him out of his trace. Sherlock flinches and blinks at him twice.
"Sorry, mind palace. And no", he says, and turns on his heel to bolt up to his room for the rest of the night and possibly the next day, and the day after that, and maybe even the rest of the week, if John did not force him out. He stops for a brief moment, turning his head to the side slightly, but not daring to look at John in the eye. "Since the day I met you", he says softly, and runs upstairs. John almost misses the sound of Sherlock banging his door shut over his obnoxious thoughts, now sitting down on his chair in the living room. He could not comprehend the fact that he had managed to humanise Sherlock Holmes in what little short period of time he was in his life. It sparked an oddly satisfying wave of pleasure inside John that he could not explain. Maybe it was self-centered pride, maybe admiration, maybe something more than that. Whichever it was, John had decided, he would not dream of less. A small smile tugs at his lips at the thought, then turns into a toothy grin when he notices the CD Mary had left to Sherlock in case the worst happened to her. He recalled her message, and though the reminder of her death made him sad, he knew deep inside that she was right. Mrs. Hudson, too.
"I don't shave for Sherlock Holmes", he'd said. But Mary was right, he did.
"I know Mary is dead but if Sherlock dies too, then who will you have?", and Ms. Hudson was also right. Who would he have if it wasn't for Sherlock? As much as he did not want to admit it, had it not been Sherlock, he wouldn't have had such amazing life experiences through their adventures, he wouldn't have met Mary or had Rosie, but most importantly, he wouldn't have his best friend. His companion through life. He would be lost and in depth without him, maybe he'd have wounded up dead, too. Maybe he would have been another victim passing by the consulting detective every day. One of his many cases. No, he thought, he couldn't have done this without him. The one person that John both hated and loved the most; Sherlock bloody Holmes.
“Hey, Sherlock!”, he calls. “Have you washed the dishes?”
And he smiles, because Sherlock fucking Holmes, he thinks. Not the Sherlock Holmes with the funny hat, the superhuman intelligence, The Reichenbach Hero. Sherlock Holmes, with the dissembled body parts, unhealthy habits, witty comebacks and unwashed dishes. His Sherlock Holmes.