Fandom: SH (BBC)
Slash Pairing: Sherlock/John
Web Address: http://kiltar.livejournal.com/335180.htm
Overview: The events which occur after "The Great Game"
Rating: NC-17 (eventually)
Genre: Romance, Hurt/Comfort
Chapter 1 (word count 1,723)
Chapter 2 (word count 2,531)
Chapter 3 (word count 1,928)
Chapter 4 (word count 1394)
Sherlock is confused, something he is not accustomed to feeling and he finds that he likes it not at all. He has just woken from what feels like a very deep sleep, unusual in itself as he usually sleeps very lightly when he does eventually succumb to the mundane demands of his body, and things do not feel normal. Sherlock is no stranger to waking in odd places, an unfortunate side effect of pushing his annoyingly fragile body too hard and having it literally collapse wherever he happens to be standing when the exhaustion can no longer be denied. However it has never been the case that he has woken up in such close proximity to another human being. He begins to catalogue the physical sensations that his body is sending to his brain; the warmth of another body close up against his own, the rhythmic thud of another heartbeat under his cheek, the slight tickle of what he suspects is chest hair in his nostrils, the touch of unfamiliar clothing against his body. He can hear the quiet breaths of his living pillow, smell the musky scent of another man overlaid with the acrid tang of chlorine... Ah!
Suddenly the events of the previous evening come back to him in a rush; the pool, Moriarty, the explosion, the mind-numbing fear when he couldn’t get any air & the wild chaotic thoughts as he felt his body shutting down due to oxygen deprivation. He also remembers, in bright flashes, lying on the side of the pool coughing his lungs up, John dragging him upright, the car ride home and then the blurry physical sensations of John dressing him then half-carrying him to bed.
So then it is John whom he is currently using as a body-pillow and the ex-soldier’s bed which he is lying on. Sherlock opens his eyes slowly, the room with its hideous flocked wall paper and sparse furnishings coming slowing into focus. He has his head resting on John’s upper chest and he can see his own palm lying gently on his bedfellow’s ribs, the thumb slightly wrinkled as though it has been immersed in water for some time. He can seen the dark sheets and duvet lying over them both and judging from the waning light coming from the curtained windows he estimates that it is well into the afternoon. John’s breathing is slow and steady indicating that he is still deeply asleep so Sherlock has no compunctions about staying precisely where he is for the moment, the deep sense of comfort he is experiencing from the close physical proximity is not something he would have been able to predict and he is curious as to whether it is something which will cease when John awakes. So he is content to lie there, almost motionless except for the slight twitching of his fingers in the sheets where they lay on his friend’s chest, his mind sorting through the recent events.
John stretches and arches his back slightly as he slowly awakens from the best sleep he has had since coming back from Afghanistan. He freezes as his stretching causes the heavy weight along his side and resting on his chest to move. He opens his eyes and looks cautiously down at his flatmate, half hoping and half afraid that those distinctive grey eyes will show every sign of awareness, unlike earlier when he woke. Sherlock has tilted his chin upwards and is looking at John, his eyes clear and aware.
“Er...Good morning?” John says quietly, unsure how to respond to this now-aware man lying on half his body looking far too comfortable.
“More likely afternoon I think” Sherlock says hoarsely, his throat still sore and scratchy from the chlorine. “Still, morning or afternoon a cup of tea would not go amiss” his lips quirking into a small smirk as John rolled his eyes.
“Fine” John huffs, a smile twitching his lips as he begins to extract himself from the warm weight of his companion. He is curiously reluctant to let this comfortable, if slightly strange, moment pass. He manages to free himself and swings his legs over the edge of the bed, his back towards his friend as he searches the room with his eyes for a pair of socks to protect his bare feet from the no-doubt icy tiles in the kitchen. Finally locating a rolled pair lying beneath his bedside table he drags them over his feet before standing and pulling the grey jumper, which was so hastily discarded last night, over his head. He turns towards the bed to find Sherlock lying on his side watching him with a thoughtful expression on his face, “What?” John asks, running his hand over his face and looking down at his clothes to make sure he hasn’t put them on inside-out or something.
“Mmm? Oh nothing.” Sherlock says, as he rolls gingerly onto his back unable to suppress a wince at the change of position as his chest reminds him of all the bruises he is likely to be sporting.
“Er, right then” John says as he turns away slightly confused, “I’ll bring back some ibruprofen with your tea, it will help with the muscle stiffness” he says over his shoulder as he leaves the room.
As he waits for the kettle to boil, moving from one foot to the other as the cold from the tiles seeps through his socks, he ponders his newly awakened feelings for the mad genius who is currently lying upstairs in his bed. He feels oddly protective of his friend, in a way that he hasn’t felt for his comrades in arms or even his own irresponsible, alcoholic sister before. There is a part of him that wants to wrap Sherlock up and stop him from ever being hurt again even as he realizes that to do that would smother an essential part of what makes him so attractive...Wait! Attractive? Since when do I find Sherlock attractive?! John thinks startled, even as his traitorous brain helpfully flashes images from the past couple of months at him - when they first met in the lab at St Bart’s, every time they have shared a table at a cafe or restaurant, every moment when they have been catching their breath, exhilarated and standing perhaps a bit too close for social convention after a chase. Yes, Sherlock has always held more of John’s attention than would be usual for flatmates or even friends. Even still John doesn’t know what to do with this new piece of self-awareness and worries that he will ruin what friendship he has with Sherlock were he to change his behaviour – But what if he feels the same? His mind whispers temptingly, but John firmly dismisses the thought, Sherlock is as close to asexual as he has ever seen and even if he wasn’t he wouldn’t be interested in a broken ex-soldier. John resolves to change nothing as he finishes making two cups of tea on auto-pilot and fishes the packet of painkillers down from the cupboard above the microwave before walking back to his room careful not to spill the tea.
John pushes the door open with his foot, his hands being full, and stops for a moment just staring at the sight before him. Sherlock is lying on his back in the middle of the bed, his long legs and arms flung out to overhang the mattress on both sides and the sheets, having been kicked off, are pooling around his slim waist. His face is turned towards the curtained window, his tousled hair spread out across John’s pillows and his long, white neck stretched out as if solely for his viewing pleasure. The sight of Sherlock wearing John’s own clothes is what makes him catch his breath though, the faded denim jeans clinging to his ridiculously long legs, the cuffs a full 4 inches too short and resting on his lower calf, the soft cotton of the tee-shirt lying loosely against the flat planes of his chest and slightly concave stomach. The man in the doorway wills himself to move forward and put the hot mugs down on the bedside table with only slightly trembling hands before sitting on the edge of the bed gingerly, taking a deep breath and gently prodding Sherlock’s arm with his finger.
“Hey, I’ve brought tea” he says as Sherlock retracts his limbs somewhat and rolls his head over to look at John balefully.
“I hurt” Sherlock whines, looking truly pitiful, “I tried to get up and I ache all over. Ergh, this is so dull!”
John rolls his eyes a little as he settles himself more securely on the bed and reaches over to help his pouting flatmate to shift up the bed and lean against the headboard. “Come on Sherlock, it isn’t that bad.” John cajoles as he stuffs a couple more pillows behind his patient’s back. “Here have some tea and take these” he says as he passes the mug of tea and two of the capsules over to him. He settles himself against the headboard next to his friend and takes a mouthful of his drink.
Sherlock sighs in relief as the hot liquid sooths his scratchy throat and he begins to feel something resembling normal again. He sits in silence as he drinks, considering the man next to him, this man who has risked his life for him, rescued him, brought him home, cared for him and even let him sleep in his bed, sleep on him. He thinks that although he has never had a friend before that this must be what it is like, having someone who will put up with his eccentricities, his experiments, his lack of social graces and still want to be around him. He smiles a little to himself as he finishes the last of the tea and leans over his companion to put the mug carefully on the bedside table before cautiously stretching his arms above his head and twisting his neck from side to side to work out the kinks. His body is still feeling very stiff and his ribs feel bruised but at least he is able to move slightly more easily now as the painkillers take effect.
“You could probably do with having a bath” John suggests as he watches Sherlock stretching gingerly, “A long hot soak will help your muscles no end. Then if you can tell me how to un-trap your bedroom you can put on some clothes that actually fit you” he says with a smile as he appreciates how uncomfortable Sherlock must be feeling in clothes that are patently not his own.
Sherlock smirks as he looks down and seems to notice for the first time the long length of calf that is exposed by the short leg of the jeans he is wearing. “Ah yes, it appears that one thing we are not compatible in is our clothing” he says wryly as John chuckles. Sherlock suddenly realizes that he rather likes to hear John laugh and that somehow it has become very important to him that it happens regularly.
John finishes his drink and levers himself out of bed again, “I’ll get the bath started alright?” he says as he leaves the room. Sherlock leans his head against the wall behind the bed and closes his eyes just for a moment, surprised at how exhausted he is still feeling. He must have dozed off because it seems like a mere minute later that John is back in the room and gently shaking his shoulder.
“Come on mate, the bath is ready for you now.” John steps back from the bed as Sherlock blinks sleepily before stiffly moving to the edge of the bed. He cringes as the cold floorboards make contact with his bare feet and then painfully hauls himself upright, John quickly darting to his side to provide support if he needs it. The taller man finds himself reaching a hand out and placing it on John’s shoulder even though he is perfectly balanced, just desiring the physical contact - a new experience for him. He has always shunned physical contact with other people, only occasionally unbending enough to give a perfunctory hug in greeting to Mrs Hudson or shaking a hand as social custom dictates, finding it unpleasant to be overwhelmed by so much information. The mere act of shaking someone’s hand floods his senses with such a massive input of data that it is all too easy to become distracted and unfocussed, two things Sherlock cannot abide. Touching John though is quite different. He knows John very well, understands how his mind works for the most part and there is an element of comfort in his touch, instead of the rush of data it is more like a reaffirmation of what he already knows.
With these thoughts still in his mind he allows John to lead him towards the shared bathroom where the scent of his flatmate’s muscle-relaxant shower gel is carried on the steam escaping from the half-open door. John manoeuvres him into the small room, sitting him on the closed lid of the toilet before stepping back as far as he can before bumping into the back of the door which has closed behind him.
“Can you get yourself undressed and in the bath Sherlock?” John asks “I can wait just outside the door until you are in the water if you’d prefer?” He doesn’t want to crowd the proud man sitting in front of him but he can see how pale he has become following the brief walk from the bedroom to the bathroom and won’t leave him entirely unattended if there is even the smallest chance that he could slip or fall and hurt himself further.
“Yes, yes of course” Sherlock says irritably, feeling unaccountably cross with his body’s weakness, “I am quite certain I will be able to disrobe myself and climb into the bath without assistance Doctor.” He raises his hands to his shirt, plucking at the fabric as if to indicate that he is capable of pulling it over his head.
“Okay Sherlock, I’ll just wait outside then. If you need anything just shout yeah?” John says lightly, trying to hide the concern he is feeling as he steps away from the door and moves into the hallway, pulling the door almost closed behind him.
He can hear the stubborn man shifting around behind the door in front of him, can hear his stifled moan as he stretches his torso too far trying to pull the tee-shirt over his head, can hear his breaths becoming more and more shallow as he struggles to remove his clothes. John doesn’t want to barge in and take over unless he has to – after spending so many long weeks recovering in hospital after Afghanistan he very much understands the frustration of finding your body not working as it should and the terror of feeling so utterly helpless as well as the irritation of requiring help with every little thing. Still if Sherlock doesn’t say something soon he is going to walk through that door regardless and...
“John?” A small, half sobbed sound comes from the bathroom.
“Sherlock?” John says as he pushes the door open carefully and slips inside again. Sherlock is sitting almost exactly as he left him 5 minutes ago, his clothes still on and his shoulders slumped dejectedly. He doesn’t look at John as the man moves closer, he has his eyes determinedly facing downwards and his face turned towards the fuzzy blue bathmat lying on the linoleum near his feet. “Will you let me help you Sherlock?” John asks quietly, making it sound as though Sherlock would be doing him a favour to let him help, a ruse Sherlock sees through immediately of course but appreciates the attempt nonetheless.
Sherlock nods almost imperceptibly and John kneels down in front of his friend, trying to catch his eye as he begins to lift the hem of the tee-shirt up over Sherlock’s chest and the gently over his head before sliding it off his arms. “You’ve got to give your body a chance to heal Sherlock.” He murmurs gently as he tosses the shirt behind him and starts to undo the buttons on the jeans, “You almost died last night, you can’t expect your body to jump straight back into business as usual – Come on stand up for me” he continues as he half lifts his sullen flatmate into a somewhat upright position and drags the jeans down his legs before steadying him as he steps out of them. “Alright, into the bath with you” he coaxes, like he would with a child which is exactly what Sherlock reminds him of at the moment with his pout, long gangly limbs and sulky body language.
Sherlock releases a sigh as his sore body is enveloped by the steaming water, feeling the tension in his shoulders and chest ease as he leans back against the end of the tub. He lets his eyes drift close as he leans his head back, suddenly feeling less ashamed of his body’s weakness as John’s platitudes continue to wash over him. He bends his knees to allow his upper torso to sink further into the hot water, stopping only when he can feel the tiny ripples lapping at his throat, and opens his eyes. He meets John’s concerned gaze over the edge of the enamelled tub and feels his lips lift into an almost smile, which is almost immediately echoed by John’s much more convincing smile as he leans forward with a damp, warm face flannel and begins to gently clean the dried sweat and residual chlorine from his forehead.
“Don’t get used to this” John says jokingly as he dips the cloth into the water to rinse it before squeezing it out and applying it to the rest of Sherlock’s face. “Once you are up and about under your own steam you can kiss your personal slave and bathroom attendant goodbye and you’ll just have to wash yourself just like the rest of us!” He grins as Sherlock’s lips quirk into that half-smile John has come to recognise as his amused smile. John rinses the flannel again before carefully squeezing it out over his friend’s hair, running his fingers through the damp curls as the water runs off and trickles down Sherlock’s neck, watching as his friend relaxes into his touch and so he continues to stroke the smooth, now very wet, hair for longer than is strictly speaking necessary. Eventually though his knees protest his awkward position beside the bath and he reluctantly draws himself up to his feet and stretches before looking down at his dozing companion. Sherlock looks incredibly debauched lying there in the bath with his knees drawn up, floating piles of bubbles conserving his modesty and his eyes languidly resting on John’s face. The image in front of him is enough to make John blush suddenly before picking up a towel from the nearby rail and fiddling with it to hide his reaction.
“So are you going to tell me how to get into your room so I can go and get some clothes for you?” He says abruptly, suddenly uncomfortably aware of what this could look like, of what he would like it to look like perhaps.
“Mmm...” Sherlock blinks and faces away briefly before sliding his grey eyes back to John who is still standing next to the bath looking unaccountably nervous, “I think perhaps it would be best if we wait until I am able to dismantle the experiment myself – in the interests of not having Mrs Hudson complain about holes in the walls and charred furniture of course” he says smoothly, lifting himself up and preparing to get out of the rapidly-cooling water. “Pass me that towel would you John?”
As Sherlock unsteadily clambers out of the tub and only staggers a little as the blood rushes away from his head. John catches his arm and throws the bath towel around his shoulders before stepping back and trying very hard not to look at the acres of white skin exposed by the small towel.
“And what do you suggest you wear in the meantime Sherlock? – it is the middle of February in case you had forgotten and the heating still hasn’t been repaired.” John asks a little impatiently as he watches his frustrating flatmate dry himself with varying levels of success.
“Could I not perhaps borrow some of your clothes John? – Ah thank you” Sherlock says as John steps forward and rubs the towel over the space between his shoulder blades he was having trouble reaching.
“Well you could if you weren’t abnormally tall – nothing I own would come close to fitting you Sherlock!” John says exasperated not just a little surprised at his actions a moment earlier.
“Well then I shall just have to wear clothes which do not quite fit then... I’m sure my pyjama pants are lying around somewhere and one of your abysmally old-fashioned jumpers will suffice.” Sherlock states simply as he wraps the towel around his hips and sits a little unsteadily on the toilet seat again, arms and legs shaking slightly from the exertion.
John sighs heavily before throwing the other towel over Sherlock’s shoulders to keep him warm and leaves the bathroom in search of clothes. As he tromps down the stairs he wonders just how deliberately difficult Sherlock is being and how much John is going to let him get away with before putting his foot down. It is going to be a very long couple of days while Sherlock’s body heals and John can already see himself being a virtual slave to his friend’s increasing boredom.