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Sherlock did not sleep.

‘Sleep’ was too tame a word for whatever it was Sherlock did every few days (or at the end of each long case) in order to recharge. He would call it ‘sleep’, and he would follow a similar routine that any other human might, but John felt that the act of lying comatose for (sometimes up to) 20 hours and being oblivious to everything short of a bomb detonating in the kitchen should probably be considered as more akin to “power hibernating” than to sleep.

It wasn’t even as if it was a restful time for the consulting detective; John couldn’t count on both his hands (and feet) the number of occasions upon which he had rushed into Sherlock’s room at the sound of a gunshot to find that his flatmate had, in his ‘sleep’, simply thrown himself across the room and ripped the curtains down as if they had personally offended him, or, as had happened recently, thrust his antique rapier blade-first into the side of his bed frame.

When he wasn’t experiencing bouts of sleep-violence, Sherlock was usually holding loud debates with himself about the merits of Tarmac versus concrete or why accents are different in the north of England compared to the south or even why cats don’t meow to communicate with each other and frankly John thought it couldn’t be very replenishing for the man at all.

(Those thoughts often disappeared during cases, when they were three days in and John felt almost hungover from exhaustion and Sherlock was still as energetic as ever, running from flat to Bart’s and back like a greyhound on a caffeine high, his mind working even faster. To be perfectly honest, it drove John spare.)

Sherlock did not have an eating problem, per se.

Obviously, there were times during cases where John had to hold the man down and force feed him (which was sometimes difficult, surprisingly, considering the fact that Sherlock spent most of his time sat on his backside) but outside of cases, Sherlock had a decent sized appetite.

John often thought that Sherlock was at his most irritating (and, admittedly, amusing) when he was mooching about in the kitchen cupboards in search of food between the body parts and petri dishes (pulling disgusted faces at the vegetables that John had actually hidden so as not to offend him) and desperately trying to find a Snickers bar that didn’t predate their tenancy.

John knows he's staring, just as much as he knows that he couldn't stop if he tried. There is something about this man that simultaneously unnerves and intrigues him, something in the soles of his heavily worn shoes right up to the unkempt tangles of hair on his head.

John looks quickly down at the man’s arms – one flung carelessly over the side of the sofa that the man is … relaxing on, the other draped across his stomach, and John grits his teeth, palms the pistol at his belt.

“Uncover your forearms,” he orders, and is further irritated when this causes the stranger to glance at him, his eyes steely beneath a veil of disinterest, as if John’s presence had only just been noticed. John meets his glare – he’s surprised (pleased) to find that there’s still some defiance left in the person before him, after having seen it being stripped from so many – and the stranger looks as if he wants to makes a comment but has instead chosen to keep his mouth shut. He undoes his cuffs with pale, steady hands, and pushes his sleeves up to his elbows, brandishing his forearms with a petulant roll of his eyes. His right arm is unblemished, give or take a few freckles, but the left forearm is taken up almost entirely by what look like nicotine patches.

John fights the urge to sigh and pinch the bridge of his nose (he does, however, count quickly to ten in the back of his head. He’s had too many of these recently) and inhales.

“You are aware that obscuring your identification when asked to present it is a punishable offense,” he states – doesn’t ask – the line sounding bored and monotonous even to him. He’s had way too many of these recently, “Name?”

The man’s expression does not change, but there is a moment in which John swears he saw something twitch the corners of the man’s mouth – amusement? – before the answer comes, slow and baritone.

“Sherlock,” he drawls, and John suddenly associates the pinprick freckles with old track marks.

“Classification name.” John clarifies, through his teeth. He knows when he is being played with. Sherlock smirks and does not answer, and John feels the last of his patience run dry.

"If you’re looking for a needle you know you’ve lost, you don’t start at the pincushion; you start in the haystack.” Irene says airily, idly flicking through what sounds like (thin paper, narrow in diameter, machine bound) John’s address book.

The door closes behind her with the sound of locks clacking into place and she steps from her shoes, calling ahead of herself.

“I could have given you a key, you know,” she comments, pausing for a moment for the answer that doesn’t come in sound but comes instead in silence. She steps through to the kitchen and, slightly irritated at the state of the countertops, puts the kettle on.

Sherlock appears in the doorway - which surprises her in itself, for she had expected to have to search for him - and she raises an eyebrow at the lack of disguise.

“We’re going to have to teach you how to be dead, I think.” She remarks, enjoying the childish roll of the eyes he gives in return before replying in a tone that only emulates boredom.

“It is noon and a clear day, and this room faces south. The sunlight will be reflected in the window panes should anyone happen to be taking an interest in you.”

“That didn’t seem to stop you from… Taking an interest,” she says, coy, her amusement reflected in his features. He looks away and the pull is broken and Irene tuts as she turns back to the kettle.

“Irene,” he murmurs after a pause, and the hairs on the back of her neck shiver at the closeness of him, even from across the kitchen, after so long going without. She feels fingertips in the middle of her back, his touch light and curious. Her body responds before her mind can quite catch up, and she curses the victorious look he gives her when she turns to serve his tea.

“I need a favour,” he says, suddenly and without preamble, and Irene almost laughs, “I need you to go back to London and keep a close eye on things. And a biscuit would be lovely too, if you have one."

There is a morning, soon after Sherlock has grown bored of being in hiding, when he decides to follow Irene - not for the sake of actually finding out what she gets up to now, but rather as a simple distraction. But, after six hundred yards, and just when Sherlock starts to believe he has the wool firmly over her eyes, she turns to him and gives him a pointed look. He smirks (voluntarily) and then chuckles (not so voluntarily) before turning back the way he came, boredom temporarily sated.
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