"Is there tea?"
"Shit!" Lois Habiba exclaimed so sharply and leapt so high that she nearly dropped the empty pizza boxes.
"Sorry! Sorry," John said quickly. "I didn't mean to sneak up on you."
"Christ! My heart's beating a mile a minute now. What are you doing here?"
"We spent the night. I assumed Gwen would have told you." Torchwood's admin had left before any of the rest of them last night. John hadn't heard why, but neither was it any of his business.
Lois pulled her mobile out of her blazer pocket and scrolled through her texts. Apparently she found what she was looking for because she merely muttered "Bloody technology" and tucked the device away again. "That explains why none of them is here yet." She stood up straight and met John's gaze. "Tea, you said? I was about to make a pot of coffee, but I'm happy to do tea."
"If it's no trouble."
She relaxed enough to smile. "It's the least troubling part of the job, if you want to know." She turned and started off in a direction John hadn't yet explored. She paused and looked over her shoulder at him. "Coming?"
"Oh. Sure." He glanced towards the hidden quarters where he and Sherlock had spent the night. Sherlock wasn't up yet. That didn't worry him.
He followed Lois through a set of doors into an ultra-modern looking office kitchen. She disposed of last night's dinner detritus down a metal chute that made an ominous noise as it closed.
What worried him was Sherlock waking alone in his current state. There would be that moment of blissful forgetting followed by a moment of terrible remembering. John, of course, had had a different reaction that morning. Waking without long-familiar aches and pains had been strange and wonderful. Were it not for Sherlock's discomfort and unhappiness, John could seriously consider staying like this. Of course, he was assuming that returning to normal was even a possibility.
He chose not to dwell on that until after he'd had his tea.
Lois filled the shiny, chrome electric kettle from the tap and plugged it in. "Who's 'we', exactly?" she asked. She moved about the kitchen with obvious ease and familiarity, pulling mugs and tea from cupboard and drawer. "Just so I know who else to expect to appear out of thin air."
"Sherlock and I. He, uh, didn't want to go out and, well--" He shrugged.
"Just the two of you?"
"Yeah. Greg went with Ace for the night."
Lois smiled and said quietly enough that John had to believe it wasn't meant for his ears, "Good for her. Milk? Sugar?" she added at a normal volume. She poured hot water into mugs and dropped a teabag into each.
"No, thanks. Could I get another cup? Sherlock's bound to wake up soon."
"Sure." She got out a third mug.
"Ta." John tossed in a teabag and added hot water.
"If you're hungry, I can order in something."
"You can get breakfast delivered here?"
She smiled enigmatically. "You'd be surprised. Any requests?"
"Whatever's convenient, I guess. Or-- Sausages and doughnuts?" Protein because Sherlock's adolescent body would need it and sugar to appease his sweet tooth--and hopefully sweeten his attitude.
Lois blinked at the requested combination, but made no other sign of surprise. "Can do. Give it 20 minutes?"
"Fine. Thanks." She took her tea and left the kitchen. He dumped the bags from his and Sherlock's mugs into the sink, not quite willing to brave the rather threatening sounding trash chute. After doctoring Sherlock's tea with enough sugar to make his teeth ache just thinking about it, John picked up both mugs and made his way back to Jack's quarters.
Sherlock was sprawled in the big bed like a large dog, ginger curls mussed against the white pillow case, face relaxed in sleep, long body too thin under the covers. John hated to wake him to unpleasant reality, but the others would be back in less than half an hour, and if Lois's estimate was correct, breakfast would arrive before that.
Still, he took a moment to indulge in watching his lover sleep. The barest hint of freckles was visible across the bridge of his nose and along those fantastic cheekbones. John had never seen signs of them before. He thought back to his own teen years and the answer came to him. Like all school children, Sherlock would have been forced to spend time outside. Clever as he was, even he couldn't have escaped it completely. Given enough time indoors since then, John supposed they must have faded.
John set Sherlock's tea on the nightstand and cautiously reached a hand out, giving his bare shoulder a small shake.
"Sherl? Time to wake up."
Sherlock's eyes opened and the emotions John had predicted flashed across his face in a fraction of a second, ending in pained resignation.
"I brought you tea. Lois is ordering us breakfast."
"I'm not hungry."
"No. Of course not."
Sherlock sat up, pulling the covers with him. He reached one arm out to claim his tea, but kept as much of his youthful body hidden as possible. It was so unlike his usual manner that John found it painful to watch. Sherlock sipped the steaming beverage and must have found it satisfactory because he didn't complain.
Nice to know John could do something right for him right now.
"Was there something else?" Sherlock asked abruptly.
"Then go away."
That got a reaction. Sherlock glared at him. "Please," he added tightly.
"No, thank you," countered John. He sipped his own tea, his face a mask of amiable neutrality. Or so he hoped.
"What? You won't touch your underage lover, but you're happy to watch me sit naked in bed drinking tea?" Sherlock snipped in as nasty a tone as ever John had heard from him. "I'm not giving you a show, so you can get out any time and let me get dressed in peace."
John fought to keep the hurt from showing on his face as he rose to his feet. "Breakfast should be here in about ten minutes."
"I told you I'm not hungry."
"Yeah. You did."
John crossed to the stairs and flipped the switch that opened the trapdoor in the ceiling. He paused on the first step. With his back to Sherlock, he said quietly, "You may hate it, but I don't."
"You have the advantage," Sherlock snapped back. "You're still an adult, physically."
John ignored the jab. "I didn't mean me. I meant you." He hurried up the stairs, leaving Sherlock to stew over his parting shot. John wouldn't convince him of its truth through arguing, so he didn't try. Frankly, after the way Sherlock had just treated him, he didn't much feel like trying anyway.
Trying. That was going to be the word of the day, wasn't it? Sherlock was certainly being very trying, and he'd only just woken up. And John was trying to take the high road, trying to be sympathetic. Trying, trying, trying!
Lois caught him glaring at nothing in particular amidst all the technological paraphernalia in the Hub.
"Food's here. It's in the kitchen," she said.
He shook himself from his grump and dredged up a ghost of a smile. "Thanks."
"You can take Sherlock a tray if you like. You've seen how careful we are with food around the equipment," she quipped.
"Thanks," he said again. "But he's a big boy. He can fend for himself." Big baby, more like, he thought uncharitably. "In the kitchen? Right."
It was going to be a long day. He might as well fortify himself for whatever was to come.