John Watson is, as they say, a man of simple needs. As long as he’s got a roof over his head and enough money to pay the rent for it, he really can’t complain. And he doesn’t. Not usually.
But hell, as he stands shifting his weight from foot to foot in the snow, is he bloody freezing. Freezing, and glaring daggers (icicles, maybe?) in the direction of his flatmate Sherlock Holmes. Who doesn’t really seem bothered by John or the cold. The flatmate in question stands stoically with his gloved hands stuffed in the pockets of his infamous long dark coat, as he rattles and rambles and surges through details of a murder case to Detective Inspector Lestrade.
John is beside him in his jumper and he hates everything. ”We’ll only be here for a few minutes,” he said. “We’ll make it back before the snow starts,” he said. Bloody buggering hell.
Lestrade shoots him a sympathetic look and says, “Look, Sherlock. There isn’t much else we can do for now until the body reaches the morgue. They’ve already taken vic off to be examined; you’re gonna have to wait.”
Sherlock sighs theatrically, clasping his hands behind his back. “I want to know if I’m right. About the weapon, that is. And about whether or not this man was murdered not here in the park where we found him, but elsewhere.” He pauses for a fraction of a second, shrugs, and finishes, “And about who the killer is.”
“So, basically, you want to know if you’re right about everything,” John pipes up irritably, “Which you will be.”
“Of course. That’s what I was saying. Do keep up, John—why do you keep dancing about like that?”
John is a man of simple needs.
Right now, he really thinks he needs to punch Sherlock Holmes in the face.
He doesn’t, though. Instead, he watches for a few moments as Sherlock goes off on a tangent again as to why the murder weapon had to have been something thicker than a broomstick but thinner than a baseball bat. He watches that silly black coat ruffle in the wind, its shade matching Sherlock’s dark hair contrasting with the pale of his skin that almost blends in with the snowy air.
And John decides he’s not going to shuffle around freezing off various body parts any longer while Sherlock Holmes simply stands there trying to look cool. (Okay, so maybe he doesn’t need to try very hard. Cheeky bastard.)
So John strides over to Sherlock, and, as the other man is in mid-explanation of spatter analyses, snatches one of the flaps of Sherlock’s coat and wraps it around himself, pressing into Sherlock just a bit for added warmth. To hell with personal space. It isn’t as if Sherlock ever abided by the concept anyway. (And, let’s face it. John was in the army. Personal space wasn’t always a big factor.)
“ . . . So naturally, the blood on the w--John?” The surprise in Sherlock’s voice is definitely amusing enough to break John’s composure, but he refuses to let his expression falter. He presses his lips together and stares straight ahead as comfortable heat spreads over him. “John, what are you doing?”
“Keeping warm,” John replies, voice slightly muffled by Sherlock’s shirt, “What’s it look like? I thought you were supposed to be the genius out of the two of us.”
Lestrade lets out a cross between a gasp and a laugh, and John thinks if people hadn’t been talking before, they sure as hell would be, now.
But John would like to live through the next few minutes to hear them talking, thanks very much, as opposed to wasting away slowly of hypothermia. (…Just because he’s a doctor doesn’t mean he can’t use hyperbole once in a while.) So he stays put.
And the thing is, Sherlock doesn’t budge. He doesn’t pull away in annoyance, or tell John to back off. Rather, he keeps talking. Because when Sherlock has taken a trip to his Mind Palace and back, it’s hard to get him to stop talking.
But he lets John huddle there, and maybe Sherlock’s wild hand gestures lessen a little and maybe he keeps still enough so that John can keep a hold on the coat and maybe he even hunches forward slightly like some sort of gangly, oddly-shaped envelope.
But none of that’s to keep John warm. Of course not. Sherlock never alters his behavior for anyone else. He never alters his behavior period, unless he’s getting something out of it.
Not like John cares, anyway. Just two blokes standing at a local park a little too close together. Nothing to see here. Move along.
And then Sherlock does something that causes sheer astonishment to push its way into the forefront of John’s mind, a buzz of surprise in his whirling thoughts.
Sherlock removes his seemingly ever-present long dark coat, lets it fall off his shoulders and, in one fluid motion, places it over John’s. “Come along, John,” he says, and before John can say anything more he’s hailing a taxi. Lestrade shoots him a final amused smirk, and John looks back at him warily.
Oh, yes. People will talk.
John half-jogs after Sherlock with the coat wrapped around him, the bitter winter day seeming just a little warmer now.
* * *
John doesn’t remember falling asleep on the couch back at 221B, but when he wakes, it’s like out of a very good dream he can’t recall. Like stepping into sunlight without quite knowing where you’re going. Warm. Very warm . . .
When the bleariness of sleep falls away from his eyes, John sees it: The Coat, Sherlock’s coat, draped over him. For a moment John simply lies there, trying not to think about the familiar soft fabric against the fingertips of his right hand, or the oddity of a scent surrounding him that could be described only as uniquely Sherlock.
“Oh,” he says simply, an (unintentional) audible expression of his confusion. He hadn’t fallen asleep with the coat; that was for sure. He distinctly remembers handing it over to Sherlock in the cab with a quiet “thanks,” avoiding his gaze to stare out the window.
John sits up, craning his neck to spot Sherlock at the kitchen table, peering into a microscope for what appears to some experiment or another. Blue eyes flash up to meet John’s, and the detective says, “Oh, good. You’re awake. I’ll be using a hammer in about twenty minutes which would have woken you anyway. No use wasting the day away just because of a few snowflakes.”
“A few . . .” John turns a little to peer out the window, and the view is almost blindingly white. To describe the current weather with the phrase “a few snowflakes” would certainly be an understatement. He whirls back around, then peers down at the coat still wrapped loosely around his torso. He clears his throat. “Erm, right. Yeah. Your, uh, your coat--”
“You were shivering.” A pause, and then: “It was negatively affecting my concentration. The extra blankets were all the way upstairs.”
John nods and says around a gulp, “Right. Well, erm, I’ll just put it--”
Sherlock has returned his attention to the microscope lenses, but he waves a hand in dismissal. “Keep it there, if you like. My assumption is it won’t get any warmer outside, and it takes approximately one hour and fifteen minutes for the entire flat to reach a comfortable temperature once the heating system has been switched on.”
John tries not to look as taken aback as he feels when he replies in a small voice, “Oh. Okay.”
“Hmm,” Sherlock hums in response, and the conversation quiets.
Sherlock keeps himself to himself. John knows this. He likes the disorderly order of his belongings, and John respects that (though it isn’t always reciprocated. John thinks he should start charging for each time Sherlock “borrows” his laptop). Despite all this, the detective doesn’t keep very many things closely and frequently enough to be considered very personal . . . except for his phone, his scarf, and that damn silly coat he swishes around like he’s posing for bloody GQ.
The coat which has that ridiculous collar he always upturns when he’s showing off. The coat that is so characteristically Sherlock, mysterious and fitting to his tall, lanky frame and the darkness of his stare. John can’t remember Sherlock not having the thing, can’t picture running around all of London in the dark without the shadow of its trail whirling behind the man as John follows behind him.
The coat is part of Sherlock, John thinks. And as he peers down at it, studies it up close, realizes it’s just a little worn from wear and from a history of which John’s never been told, he thinks this is Sherlock’s way of sharing some of himself with John.
John’s first thought upon this revelation is, You’re being ridiculous. His second thought is quite the opposite in nature. He fixes his gaze on Sherlock, wondering how it’s possible that his flatmate’s strange little subtleties always manage to turn John’s world on its axis.
He thought he’d managed to surprise the Great Sherlock Holmes with his too-close-for-comfort move back at the crime scene. As it happens, though, as these things often do with Sherlock, John is the one completely thrown in the end.
John decides now to stop making this a game.
He gets up, shuffling over to stand behind a very focused Sherlock at the microscope. It’s his turn, now, to drape the coat over Sherlock’s shoulders, and he watches in patient silence as Sherlock sits back at the sudden gesture, tears his eyes away from the microscope, and peers up at John.
Sherlock huffs an agitated breath. “John, I told you that you could keep--“
Snogging Sherlock Holmes is something John never really had time to imagine. Other things got in the way—Sherlock’s work, John’s girlfriends, people talking, and other people getting murdered. So, no, he hadn’t thought about what it would be like if he’d really done it. But he’s doing it now, and he has to say it’s pretty damn fantastic. Especially because Sherlock is actually kissing him back. With something like enthusiasm that may just be. Well. Enthusiasm.
When he pulls away, John looks Sherlock directly in his eyes colored with surprise and says, “I heard what you told me. This is me saying thank-you, yeah?”
Sherlock nods seriously. “Right. Of course.”
A beat. Silence full of questions which either man answers on his own, transforming into a silence that wants very much to be lifted. And so it is:
“. . . Would you like me to thank you again?”
People are definitely going to talk, John thinks. But as a certain genius once said, people do little else.
So John kisses Sherlock, the fabric of The Coat like friction between them; a spark. Something new, just beginning.