By 8:07a.m., John was in a cab on his way to work at the clinic. The tube line he would have taken was down for two days for maintenance and repair, and taking alternate trains would have made him late.
By 8:31a.m., he donned his white coat and stethoscope and went in to see his first patient.
By 9:43 a.m., the snow that had been forecast began to fall. Tiny flakes that reflected like dust motes in the air outside the clinic's windows.
By 11:00a.m., snow clung softly to the sidewalks, the bases of lamp posts, and the railings around the nearest tube station's stairs.
By 12:02p.m., snow had begun to stick to the roads. Three people came into the clinic just before John was meant to have his lunch break. Each had slipped on the growing slush and ice. A young woman with a sprained ankle; a man about John's age with a badly twisted knee; and a street kid with scraped up hands and a broken finger. John thought the last looked familiar, and a quiet question got him an answer. The boy was one of Sherlock's irregulars. John gave him everything he needed, plus a little extra time in the exam room, since he didn't have anywhere warmer to go.
By 2:14p.m., the temperature had dropped to -7C. Warnings had been issued to stay home if you could, to keep off the roads if at all possible.
By 2:29p.m., Ella's office had called to cancel his afternoon therapy appointment. It was the best news John had had all day.
By 3:00p.m., Sarah told him to go home. It wasn't quite the end of his shift, and John protested. He'd be needed if things got bad. Sarah shook her head. "The real emergencies will go to the hospitals. Go home. We've got it covered. If you start now, you might just make it before dark." John nodded and left. He took a moment to call Sherlock and let him know he was on his way. There were no cabs to be had, not that traffic was moving much anyway. The tube was still down. So John began to walk.
By 4:30p.m., he figured he'd better let Sherlock know he wasn't dead. He ducked into a convenience store that hadn't closed yet and phoned his flatmate. He didn't tell Sherlock how his leg ached with the physical and mental stress of trying to stay warm and trying not to fall down on the slick sidewalks.
By 5:15p.m., the sky was a dark blanket of heavy clouds. Snow reflected the light of the street lamps and the headlights of the busses and cars. Some were crawling along London's narrow streets, some sat at a complete standstill, some stood cold and abandoned where they'd been parked since before the snow began. John pulled his muffler up to his ears, tugged his knitted wool hat down, and tried to wrap his winter coat tighter about himself. His feet were like ice blocks inside his boots despite having worn his warmest socks. His fingers tingled inside his gloves and he pulled them in, balling his hands into fists inside the palms of the gloves, and shoved them into his coat pockets. His nose ran and he wiggled his head from side to side, rubbing it on his muffler.
By 6:00p.m., he knew Sherlock had left at least three text messages and a voicemail for him, but he was too damned cold to pull his phone out to reply. Besides, he was nearly home.
By 6:25p.m., John trudged up the steps to the door of 221b Baker Street. His teeth chattered, his feet were all but numb, and his fingers were so cold he couldn't manage to work his key in the lock.
By 6:26p.m., Sherlock flung the door open and swooped down on John like an angel with plaid wings, enveloping him in a heavy tartan blanket, heedless of the soggy snow that was rapidly melting on John's clothing. "Mrs. Hudson, tea!" he shouted and the mere mention of that divine beverage made John sigh in relief, although it was so muddled with his shivering that it was more of a shudder than a proper sigh. Sherlock helped him upstairs. "Get out of those clothes and into something warm."
"A b-b-bath would be warm."
"I'll see to it. Go on."
John heard water running in the tub as he shivered out of his clothes. He pulled on his polar fleece bathrobe and wrapped a fresh blanket around his shoulders.
By 6:37p.m., John was soaking in a warm bath--not too hot against his overly-chilled body; Sherlock had got the temperature perfect.
By 6:41p.m., Sherlock delivered the tea Mrs. Hudson had prepared. John's hands had defrosted just enough to hold the mug without fear of dropping it in the bath.
By 6:44p.m., soft strains of Sherlock's violin wafted to him from the other room. John sighed heavily, smiled, and let his mind drift on the delicate melody.
By 6:53p.m., John felt almost human again, but he stayed in the tub, relaxing, his empty mug of tea sitting on the floor near by.
By 7:14p.m., John was dry, dressed in warm pyjamas and robe, and tucked up on the couch. Mrs. Hudson brought up bowls beef soup with vegetables and barley for him and Sherlock, and they ate while watching news coverage of the freak winter storm.
By 7:36p.m., the power had gone out.
By 7:44p.m., Sherlock had a fire going in the fireplace.
By 8:30p.m., John was dozing on the couch, his head on Sherlock's lap, with Sherlock's fingers gently threading through his hair.
By 9:02p.m., John woke enough to shuffle off to bed.
By 9:20p.m., Sherlock's long, slim body had slipped in behind him, wrapping him in another layer of warmth.
By 9:22p.m., the snow had stopped falling.
By 9:23p.m., strong arms, sleep, and the sweetest dreams were all that John knew.
Continued in Kindness