stress relief doodle
It’s in the way Sherlock’s eyes narrow, the way his voice gets louder without becoming a shout; how he moves, how he breathes, how he lives and simply is that tells John when Sherlock’s mind is on fire. There are times when Sherlock himself can extinguish the flame, and it’s a sight to see the unwinding of Sherlock Holmes from pre-case to post-case and every quick-minded moment in between.
But then there are nights between cases, or even on cases, where it’s simply too much for the man. John wages it’s nights like these that Mycroft calls “Danger Nights.” They never established the criteria for what a Danger Night is, namely because the name only comes up when John is not by Sherlock’s side.
It’s tiring at times and even trying, but being needed is what John Watson is meant to be. Being needed by Sherlock Holmes is what he needs to be.
So he stays at home - declines invites to the pub, resists walking in the crisp autumn air, even forgoes the mail - when he sees the flicker of a flame in Sherlock’s eyes. He stays, and he sits, and he watches Sherlock pace restlessly, practically carving a trail in the floor with his weighted footsteps. He knows Sherlock won’t stop and say, Please, John, I need help. Instead it’s in the silence following the ramble, in the way Sherlock stares at him, a gaze John now knows is a plea and silence he knows is a desperate question.
Sometimes Sherlock comes to him. Sometimes he rises to the man. But always, his arms are around Sherlock, and Sherlock huffs and rests his forehead on John’s shoulder and mumbles about how he’s fine and how he still doesn’t quite understand the point of physical affection. And always, after a moment, Sherlock shifts his head and nestles his cheek on John’s shoulder (and if they’re seated he even curls close, like a cat unsure if it will be pushed off the lap it seeks) and closes his eyes. John holds the base of his neck, pets his hair, rubs his shoulder. Touches him, affirms that he’s there, he’s there and he’ll always be there and there will never be a need for another Danger Night again. Touches him like he’s a human being who needs the sensation and the warmth and the intimacy, instead of avoiding him like the robot the world paints him to be. Touches him and says useless words he’ll never know actually do reach Sherlock’s ears: It’s all right, I’ve got you.
These interventions can be five minutes long, or three, or sixty, or one hundred and twenty. He can be silent the whole time, or talk, babbling uselessly. They can have a conversation or just enjoy being so close. Sherlock is quiet afterward, his voice deep and soft and immensely private. It’s as close to vulnerable as John’s ever heard. John has gotten good at gauging whether or not to turn the telly on or to call in dinner or to take Sherlock to bed (and whether to sleep with him or not). He’s rather proud of himself, really. He doesn’t know that Sherlock is as well.
However it ends, in the morning John wakes to Sherlock active and alert, condemning John’s sleeping in and the missed opportunity for morning sex. He pushes tea in John’s left hand and toast in his right, sits him bleary and blinking into his chair, and shoves the paper at him before going to his violin to ignore John for the next hour.
Before that, though, right after John pulls down the obituary section off his face to scowl at Sherlock, Sherlock kisses him, a soft, reverent thing that warms John to the core. And Sherlock pulls back, his eyes on John’s; his gaze and silence, as always, saying what words he cannot form.
When Sherlock turns away to attend to his Stradivarius, John smiles a smile he thinks Sherlock misses, but it’s one Sherlock knows and carries with him deep in his memory. It’s in his blood; it’s in the marrow in his bones.
As the first note is plucked, Sherlock wonders if he’ll ever find the words to express that to John.
The sweet music which fills the flat after each tumultuous night does the job just fine.