Contraband and Compromise
"Take it away."
"I said take it away," snapped John with as much vigour as he could manage. It wasn't much, but judging by the look on the orderly's face, he'd gotten his point across. The young man reclaimed the tray of what purported to be food, and left without further word. It wouldn't be the end of the matter, of course, but for the moment John revelled in the tiny victory.
Hollow victory, he thought. Perfect for my hollow stomach. It wasn't so much that the base hospital's food was bad. It wasn't any better or worse than what you'd get in the commissary: not fancy but generally palatable. The problem was that he was so bloody sick of eating the same bland, safe, prescribed diet that he'd faced for the past six and a half days. All right, it was a step up from the nutrition drip IV, but right now he'd about kill for something he could sink his teeth into properly. He was certain his taste buds had fallen into coma from sheer boredom.
The door swept open and John braced himself for a lecture from Nurse Williams (if he was lucky) or Doctor Jones (if he wasn't). To his pleasant surprise, his visitor was neither.
"This is a surprise."
"One you'll be glad of, I expect." Lestrade shot a wary glance behind him and slipped into the room, the door closing softly as he stepped out of its sensor range. "I brought you something." He unzipped the dark, military-issue hoodie he wore and removed a familiar silver insulthene package. He set it on the tray beside John's bed and pulled a package of disposable cutlery from his pocket. He ripped it open and dumped the silverware onto the tray. "Figured you'd be mad for a decent meal by now."
"You're three days late on that score, but I forgive you. Give it to me." John hauled himself more upright and rolled the tray across his lap. "What is it?"
"Madras curry. Mild," Lestrade added at John's surprised look. "I didn't want to cock up your gut. If it's anything like mine was when I was in recovery, it's still quite dodgy."
John tore open the pouch and inhaled the first whiff of spices. His mouth watered at the heavenly aroma, but he hesitated. "You're sure it's free of capsaicin?"
Lestrade gave a mock salute. "On my word as a soldier. Everything a good curry wants but the chiles."
"You're a lifesaver."
"Yeah, but not usually like this." Crossing his arms over his chest, Lestrade took up a post leaning against the door frame just beyond its sensors.
John spared enough time for a snort of amusement, then plunged the fork into the steaming pouch of goodness. He savoured the first bite like a man in the desert savours fresh water.
"I'm almost afraid to ask, but why hasn't Oracle brought you something by now?"
"He tried," answered John around a mouthful of deliciousness.
Lestrade raised his eyebrows, intrigued.
"He got caught."
"If only." His words came between bites, sentences only as complete as necessary so as not to interrupt his eating. God, the food tasted good! "Orderlies have kept him at bay ever since. Jones won't clear him without submitting to a search. Make sure he's not carrying contraband."
"And he won't allow them the satisfaction. That sounds like Oracle." He gave a snort of dry mirth.
The door opened abruptly and both men jumped. John couldn't hide the food so he didn't try. He'd fight anyone who tried to confiscate it, IV tubes, wires, and sticky sensors be damned. It turned out he didn't have to.
He barely swallowed his latest mouthful before his jaw fell open, and John could see Lestrade's had done the same. "Sherlock? What are you doing?"
"I see you're feeling better," Sherlock said, striding in purposefully. "Good."
Lestrade's smirk carried from his eyes to his voice once he found his tongue. "I see you've reached a compromise with the doctor's orders."
Sherlock turned to look at him over one bare shoulder. "Commander, hello. Yes. We've reached a compromise, as you say."
"I'll leave you two alone then." Lestrade slipped out the door. His barking laughter carried to them even after the door closed behind him.
"Is this really the best option you could come up with to visit me?"
"You're not disappointed."
"No! I just--" John shook his head, bemused. "Never mind. Sit?"
Sherlock glanced at the standard hospital issue chair. "No, thank you. I wouldn't find it comfortable."
"Sit on the bed then, you absurd man."
Sherlock sat without further protest. He wrapped the end of the blanket over his lap.
John couldn't stand it any longer. "Where exactly did you leave your clothes, then? In quarters?"
"Certainly not." Sherlock huffed indignantly. "They're at the nurses' station. I intend to claim them on my way out."
"Of course you do." John shook his head again, chuckling. "You couldn't have kept your pants on at least?"
"I wished to leave no room for suspicion on Doctor Jones' part."
Sherlock ignored the quip. He tipped his head to the tray in front of John. "Lestrade brought you that did he?"
"Yes. He's cleverer than you at being sneaky," John teased.
Sherlock looked down his nose at what was left of John's supper. "Hm. Perhaps. Far from perfect, however. I'd've brought you pudding, too."