Title: X is for Xerophyte

Rating: PG
Fandom: BBC Sherlock
Pairing: Sherlock/John


John sneezed precisely six  times during breakfast. The first one came as a surprise, a sudden explosion over his scrambled eggs, only barely covered in time. He drew out his handkerchief to smother rapid-fire numbers two through five. He had to direct the sixth into his shoulder because he was scraping the remainder of his baked beans into the trash.


Two more sneezes caught him on the way to the bathroom, where he tried the doorknob and moaned quietly when it was locked. “Sherlock!” he called out, knocking as politely as he could with another sneeze playing at his nostrils. His shoulders rose and he dug his hanky back out with unparalleled haste. “heft’choo! snff Sherlock!”


The door opened and Sherlock looked down at him. “John. Is there a reason you couldn’t simply wait for me to finish washing my hands?” His hands were wet, dripping as they held open the door.


“I…” His breath hitched, and he buried his nose in the hanky again. “heffkshfffff!


“I’m sorry,” Sherlock said. “I didn’t quite catch that. You what?”


John snuffled wetly, just short of blowing his nose, and tried again. The problem was, now he felt like sneezing even more than ever. “I cuh… I thidk I’b cobig dowd wid subthig. I cah… ahh-heh-IHShfffff! H’shhh! ekkkptchh!” John took a few steps back and leaned against the wall. He blew his nose and caught his breath. He closed his eyes and tried not to sneeze again. “I cad’t stob sdeezig.”




John hadn’t counted on Sherlock having sympathy and hadn’t gone there specifically looking for it. But he had hoped for… well, something. He opened his eyes. “Let be id so I cad—“


“Your nose is stuffed-up, John. You should blow it again.”


Slightly frustrated, John glared at Sherlock over the hanky as he blew his nose. When he spoke again, he did sound clearer, though. It was infuriating how Sherlock was always right. “There’s a thermometer and some cold medicine in the cabinet. If I take something immediately, maybe this cold won’t get any worse.”


Sherlock looked at him—really looked. And, feeling self-conscious, John suddenly felt like some dead body and set of clues that Sherlock was analyzing. Not entirely comfortable under the scrutiny, he started forward again, intending to squeeze past Sherlock to get into the bathroom. He didn’t think he had a fever, but that was always a good thing to check first just… in… case…


ekkt’chhh! Heh-heh-kehchffff!” The sneezy feeling returned in full, even as he rubbed his nose through the hanky. “h’ihshhh! Eh-KEHtchhh!”  He pulled back again, gasping for breath. “ehh-heh…” The intense urge to sneeze backed down just a little. It still tickled him, but that deep, uncontrollable urge to sneeze his head off wasn’t there anymore, thank goodness. “Sherlock,” he said weakly, hoping Sherlock would pick up on the hint and get that aforementioned thermometer and medicine.


“You don’t have a cold, John.”


John blinked. If not a cold, maybe the flu? He didn’t feel quite so bad as that, though.


“Not the flu, either.”


Before John could come up with another possibility, Sherlock stepped closer and the urge flared up deep in his nose again. “huh… huhh-IXtchh! Ehfshhh!


“it’s an allergy.”




“Yes. An allergy.”


“To…? Sniff!




That sounded like a sneeze in and of itself, actually. But it wasn’t a word John recognized. He scanned his memory, wondering if he had come across it years ago in med school perhaps. “What?”


“Xerophyte. It’s a plant that grows in an environment with very little or no water. I was studying some of them last night. Their properties to adapt and evolve are quite remarkable.” His gaze bore into John. “As they are the only new element introduced into this environment, I deduce that you must be allergic to them. It isn’t a very difficult leap to make.”


“Sure. Sniff! If you know about the plants, that is.”


A slight smile played on Sherlock’s lips. “In addition, I worked with them all night, and now you sneeze every time you get near me.”


John let the idea sit in. Sherlock did have a point. But he’d never been this allergic to anything before. It was hard to believe that—


Sherlock stepped toward him, demonstrating.


ehhhh-EHkshfffff! Hbshhhhhh!” John turned his head, slunk back down the hall a little. And the tickle eased. “Good God, you’re right.” He blew his nose again. “Xerophytes?”


Sherlock nodded. “You may wish to avoid the living room for a little while.”




“And me, as well.”


“Living room I can do… but you…” Hanky tucked under his nose, John moved forward and pushed Sherlock back into the bathroom. “hifshh! I can’t stay away from you for long.” And he wouldn’t want to, even if he could. “You’d better shower and change.” Up on his toes, he kissed Sherlock. Then he pulled back, turned away. “h’shhoo!