[identity profile] ameonna.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] sparklefiction

John Watson had a number of startlingly intricate neuroses that made him very interesting. There was his intermittent tremor in his left hand, his gun hand, and the occasional limp in his right leg that was almost entirely psychosomatic. There were his addictions to adrenaline and danger, to the exclusion of almost all man-made drugs, including painkillers, which he could have used for the actual injury in his right shoulder. There was his nearly pathological desire for intimacy and comfort, which resulted in him flirting with every female waitress, hostess, barmaid, nurse, doctor, postal worker and dentist in London under the age of fifty; and yet he was a gentleman, as he put it, and rarely if not never went home with anyone for a one-night-only performance. There was his obsessive, devoted reverence of his flatemate's genius, which Sherlock Holmes found his most delightfully convenient mania, though it exhibited itself sometimes in a mild graphomania with disasterously prosaic reductions of what otherwise would have been wonderfully scientific situations, fit for a textbook.

And then there was his obsessive compulsion to clean things, which Sherlock found annoying, at best.

"My box of slides, three petri dishes, the vials of fingernail clippings- those were for a case, John!"

Sherlock Holmes was storming about in the kitchen, ranting, opening cabinet doors and slamming them shut. The kitchen had long been a den of hazardous substances, a bout of food poisoning waiting to happen, and truly it was a wonder neither of them had keeled over yet from making tea.

When John had approached Sherlock with the idea of actually being able to cook and eat in the kitchen, Sherlock had merely grunted in response. But now that he'd stopped ignoring John enough to pay attention to what he'd done, Sherlock was working his way up to a proper tantrum.

"And where is the piss?"

John remained stubbornly unruffled.

"I've explained this to you, Sherlock. Your half of the fridge- bottom shelf, half the middle, right crisper drawer as you're right-handed- is for your experiments, if you simply must refrigerate them, on the condition you keep them covered with cling wrap. My half of the fridge- top shelf, half the middle, left crisper drawer as I'm left-handed- is for food, as I am a normal person and cannot survive on take out, tea and nicotine patches. You agreed this was reasonable and when I cleaned the fridge, I moved things."

John squinted. "I've a question for you. How many Sherlocks does it take to buy milk?"

"What?"

Sherlock squinted back at him, scowling.

"The piss, John, this is important."

"In a properly sealed sample vial in your damned crisper drawer," John sniffed. "And the answer is, Sherlock, that I'm sure I don't bloody well know, as you've never fucking done it."

Sherlock immediately turned from him to open the fridge, verifying what he said had been true. Then he wheeled back around, his eyes hard.

"Milk? Is that what this is about, the milk?"

"No," John said. "The milk is about your lack of consideration. Your petri dishes, your fingernails, your piss sample, all in the crisper drawer, so that when I am hungry I don't have to think about how close they are to my food. We've only room for one fridge, after all. The cling wrap is on top of the fridge, please make sure to seal your things from now on."

John frowned and poured hot water into his teacup. He'd take it black, then. "The cleaning is just me. I clean. Meditatively. A lucky thing for you, I'm sure, as I've yet to see you pick up a scrub brush."

"You can't keep moving my things around whenever you feel like it. I won't stand for it," Sherlock seethed.

John gave him the most singularly unfrightened, unflappable, unimpressed sort of expression Sherlock had ever encountered in the course of his rages. Even Mycroft would roll his eyes, or puff up at him like an annoyed cat. John regarded him with the cool impassivity a father would have for a tantruming child.

"I'm happy with where they are, so I've no need to interfere with them from this point. So long as you put things where they ought to be, I won't have any need to move them a second time, will I?"

Sherlock jabbed an accusing finger at him, the entirety of his lean body canted at a belligerent angle. Then he huffed out an angry breath and stormed from the kitchen.

**

Sherlock often found, when he wanted to run an experiment, that his beakers would have to be sorted, washed and reset from something he'd forgotten to put away earlier.

After John moved in, this ceased to be a problem, and when he came home one afternoon, Sherlock discovered why.

John was washing out his chemistry set. He would, with his clinical eye, assess what was an existing, stable base compound, assure that it was sealed so that it wouldn't oxidize if it might be something Sherlock needed later, and if it weren't, he would properly dispose of the compound, rinse the dish and then wash it in the dishwasher. As a result, Sherlock replaced his sample bottles far less often, as they didn't collapse under repeated exposures to potent chemicals in unusual combinations.

He didn't expect thanks. It was just something John did, at least two nights a week, to keep his hands busy.

"What are you doing?" Sherlock finally asked one day.

And then he waved his hand dismissively.

"Never mind. Why are you doing it?"

"Devil are you talking about?" John asked, having not been party to Sherlock's thoughts.

Circling around the table, Sherlock picked a flask from the glassware carefully arranged on the rack of the dishwasher.

"This."

"I clean," John said, shrugging. "Meditatively."

He'd dusted the living room and put some of the books on the shelves. He'd mostly guessed at the best places for them, and arranged Sherlock's books on the right, his own on the left. His books were mostly medical journals, the occasional work of fiction, always by former soldiers.

Sherlock's books, he arranged by category, having absorbed the nature of how Sherlock scattered his files around the flat and arranged them- fairly well.

"Why does it bother you?"

"Because it's strange. You don't have any reason for doing it, and you continue to do it, even if I get angry and even if I don't reciprocate."

He was giving John that Look again, the piercing sort of look that made John think Sherlock would like nothing better than to crack his head open and examine his brain. It usually meant that he had done something interesting. Doing something that Sherlock Holmes considered interesting was the highlight of John's week.

"It is rather... helpful, actually. Now that you've stopped misplacing things."

"I wasn't misplacing them," John pointed out calmly. "We'd just moved in. I was establishing the locations of things, as your organization tends to be like the inside of your head, piles and stacks of things, nobody can follow it without your help. I need things compartmentalized. We've stopped tripping over one another as much as we've grown used to each other."

He shrugged. "You've gotten better. About sticking to certain areas. If I could get you to stick to your shelves in the fridge and do the shopping occasionally, we'd never have rows."

John smiled at him, very faintly, a teasing sort of grin. "Though I'm glad it helps you. Organization can be an excellent mental shortcut for those of us who can't keep your massive record."

"Why must you harass me with the shopping?" Sherlock groaned. "It's all so terribly mundane."

"So's brushing your teeth and taking a shit, but it's all necessary," John sighed. "Sherlock, you almost never eat, so I never have to worry about my bread going missing, the vegetables, any time anything gets cooked, I'm the one who does it."

He folded his arms over his chest. "I buy the milk for my tea. You take milk in your tea, and milk when you're doing a culture for an experiment, and milk when you've a stomach ache, or insomnia, or you're thirsty. And you never replace it, and then I go to put it in my tea, and there isn't any. It's frustrating. It's like- it's like when you want to test something and all the beakers are dirty. Not that that ever happens anymore, since I started washing them."

As John was speaking, Sherlock had closed his eyes and begun to rub his temples with the tips of his fingers as if attempting to stave off a migraine.

Squinting at John he finally sighed, "Are you still talking about the milk?"

His expression softened, a crinkle of fondness coming to his eyes. John laughed softly, ruefully, shaking his head. "God, no."

He got to his feet and, still shaking his head, started up the stairs. "Goodnight, Sherlock."

**

There was a certain amount of calm that settled over the flat as the weeks passed. Certainly both men were prone to their nervous habits; John still cleaned and blogged about Sherlock's brilliance, Sherlock still raved at the television and fired bullets into the wall. But every so often there would come a moment when the dust would settle, the chaos would abate, and peace would find its way into 221B Baker Street.

John loved the chase, and running along behind Sherlock. Sherlock loved the way John listened, how his questions were so much smarter and more observant with every new development, though he still found John's writing far too prosaic, and beneath him, unworthy of a man like John, a man of science. Science, which is Sherlock's religion.

They bickered over small things. The remote. The laundry. The fingers in the butter dish. The acceptable hour to make tea in the morning, which Sherlock continually informs John is not and will never be six. The hours at which it is permissible to play certain types of violin music, and Sherlock is persuaded to restrain most of the screeching, experimental noise to daylight. John learns to put things into files rather than ever going so far as to dispose of Sherlock's carefully cribbed out notes on napkins, which John decides on his own to copy into the word processor, so he can make spreadsheets.

**

Sherlock surprised them both with how well he took to intimacy. But he acted enough like a spoiled cat in his everyday life, with his changeable moods, his energetic mania and his bored indolence, that it should not have been a surprise at all how much he liked to be petted. Submitting to petting him would give John a good thirty to forty-five minutes of peace and something to do with his hands.

He'd managed to engage Sherlock in a very therapeutic bout of petting on the couch, Sherlock's head in his lap, his right hand in Sherlock's hair and his left holding the paper. He had been reading uninterrupted for fifteen minutes.

Then there was a knock at the door.

"Ah," said Sherlock, opening his eyes. "That will be the milk."

John blinked at him, setting the paper on the table to give one or both of them room to get up and answer the door.

"What?"

"The milk, John."

Sherlock sat up, twisting around to face him.

"That thing you're always prattling about whenever we get a spare minute. The milk."

The knocking came again, and John, truly mystified, was still staring at Sherlock as he moved toward the stairs to go answer it. He returned after a few minutes with half a gallon of whole and two pints of skim, and put them in the refrigerator.

"You-" he began, standing in the kitchen doorframe with the sleeves of his jumper pushed up. He tried again, and then stopped, his expression warring between affection and complete bewilderment. "You're having the milk delivered?"

Sherlock had resumed his usual position on the couch, with his hands folded and his eyes closed.

"Obviously."

"That really is," John began, and then came closer, hovering over the couch. "That's brilliant, Sherlock."

And then, when he was back in his designated petting position, he mumbled, "Should have done it years ago, but still. Wonders never cease. You've gotten so much better."

"I am the best, after all," said Sherlock.

John laughed softly, picking up his newspaper and starting to tangle his fingers in Sherlock's curls again.

"Yes. You are."

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