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A Halloween Shindig

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"Come on Sherlock! Pleeeeeeease?!"

Molly's cajoling was gradually wearing him down. The Halloween party was only a couple of days away and Sherlock's ambition was to stay as far away from the whole gaudy, ridiculous 'celebration'. It was bad enough to be known as the spectre of the school the rest of the year, to not fit in even on a night where everyone was dressed in costume and would be on their way to drunk pff their arses would be even more humiliating. He ducked down further behind his chemistry text and tried to block out his only friend's pleading.

"For me, Sherlock? Please? Look, you won't have to get all dressed up or anything, just a little makeup maybe? You could be a vampire or something, then all you have to do is scowl and not talk to anyone!"

Sherlock shot his best glare at his friend who promptly burst into giggles. "Yep, exactly like that!" Molly playfully whacked him in the arm and leaned in close.

"Who knows, maybe John Watson will be there..." she whispered in a mock-conspiratorial tone.

"Molly, please," Sherlock sighed, finally giving in and responding to her attempts to draw him out of his book. He dropped the hefty text onto the table and reached for his tea, long since gone cold. He huffed in annoyance and reached for the book once more. Molly stopped him by slamming her hand down on top of it. Sherlock flopped back sulkily in his chair, arms folded and eyes downcast.

"Look, you're never going to get anywhere if you don't speak to him," Molly said softly. "You've been longingly watching him from afar for ages now, sneaking into rugby games and avoiding him in class! What's the worst that could happen if you actually go up and just talk to him?"

Sherlock snorted. The worst? The likely broken nose, or the disgusted rejection, or the laughter? Hm, tough choice.

It wasn't that he didn't want to talk to John Watson, it was more that he just couldn't bring himself to shatter the illusion of the John Watson he'd built up in his head. John Watson with his cheerful smile, his gleeful laugh, his mischievous grin. A John Watson who would listen to him, take an interest in what he had to say, wouldn't immediately reject him as weird, awkward, a freak.

Sherlock knew it was foolish and pointless to imagine, but he couldn't help himself. John Watson, captain of the rugby team, friendly and outgoing and.... And there was just no way he'd be interested in a too-skinny, socially isolated kid with a brain too fast and sharp for its own good and a mouth to match. It was always getting him into tight spots with bullies, and though he could hold his own and tear strips from each one verbally without flinching, the physical altercations often left him bruised and bleeding. He managed to hide it sufficiently, even from Mycroft, but the last encounter with Seb and his cronies had included bruised ribs and a black eye. End of term couldn't arrive soon enough.

Molly's voice snapped him back to the present. "Half an hour, Sherlock, that's all I'm asking," she was saying. "Half an hour at the party and if you promise to wear a little bit of a costume I'll find a way to introduce you to John sex god Watson, okay?"

Sherlock's eyebrows jumped halfway up his forehead as he regarded his friend across the coffee shop table. "This is about Gordon, isn't it?"

Molly's face wrinkled in confusion. "What? Who?"

"Gordon, it's about Gordon Lestrade, isn't it?"

"Sherlock! It's Greg, his name is Greg!"

Sherlock smiled knowingly and Molly blushed prettily. She was an attractive girl; soft eyes, long chestnut brown hair, a lovely goofy grin. If females were your thing, of course.

"Okay, fine," Molly rolled her eyes, "it's about Greg. I just... I like him and he's only ever seen me rushing about from class, and this is chance to, you know, dress to impress." She looked away shyly then pulled a silly puppy dog face. Sherlock laughed and shook his head.

Oh great. Now he had a costume to figure out.

------

Sherlock stood in his tiny room and tried to calm his racing heart. He'd spent much of the last two days contemplating his costume and he thought, given the time frame, he'd chosen very well. The ruffles of his white shirt ran down the centre of his chest, contrasting with the beautifully cut, soft jacket he wore loosely buttoned over the top. His trousers were tucked into his boots at the knee and the jacket tails hugged the generous curves of his arse. His wayward curls were tamed with expensive product and fell artfully across his forehead.

Ready. He was ready. He could do this. He was entirely prepared to be introduced to the man of whom he'd spent his entire school year so far dreaming. The popular rugby team captain, who'd be at the party surrounded by friends...

Shit.

Sherlock crouched down and stuck his head between his knees. Oh yeah, this was gonna go great.

Molly knocked on his door and came in. "Sherlock, you alright?" she asked, laughing. Crossing the room she hooked her arms underneath his and lifted him to his feet.

"Nice costume," she murmured admiringly. Sherlock merely nodded, fiddling with the flouncy lace cuffs of his shirt. He took in Molly's costume; long, tight black dress that showed off her figure, black wig and bright red lipstick.

She giggled at his puzzled frown. "Morticia Addams," she said, "the Addams Family?" Sherlock shrugged, gathered his phone and keys and stashed them in his pockets. Taking a deep breath, he followed Molly out into the night.

------

By the time they made it to the house Sherlock was itching to discard this entire endeavour and retreat to the safety of his books and experiments. Who cares if John Watson might be there, might be dressed up, might even deign to speak to him? It was far more likely that John Watson would laugh in his face, or that his rugby buddies would, and Sherlock would end up walking home alone. Or worse, staggering home if he was unlucky enough to run into Seb.

Molly was getting impatient with his foot-dragging and practically manhandled him up the steps to ring the doorbell.

Irene Adler, who always hosted the most gossiped about parties, greeted them at the door to her mother's stylish house in an unspeakably tiny green fairy costume. She hugged them both and ushered them in to the packed sitting room, where many a vampire, ghost and cat were drinking, laughing and talking over the music. Sherlock looked around nervously, but no sign of one John Watson.

"Looking for anyone in particular?" Irene purred in his ear.

"Oh, nobody really, just John Watson?" Molly mock-whispered to Irene. "Ah, now that's a match I would very much like to see," Irene said, "from a purely aesthetic standpoint of course." She swept her gaze over Sherlock in what he assumed was intended to be a seductive manner. "Yep, definitely Watson's type," she said.

"This must be what going mad feels like," Sherlock retorted. Irene laughed and patted his shoulder. "Don't worry, he's here and I'll be sure to introduce you," she smirked as she pushed a glass of something alcoholic into his hand.

"No, this, must be what going mad feels like," Sherlock muttered. Irene and Molly smiled indulgently at him and Sherlock glared at them both. "What about Gavin Lestrade, is he here?" he asked Irene loudly. Molly blushed and Irene grinned, taking that as a cue to drag Molly away.

Sherlock moved to a quiet space at the side of the sitting room, sipped his drink and deduced the partygoers for a few minutes. Frankenstein was planning on cheating on his girlfriend, so far though no luck. The black cat over by the bookshelves was trying to make her ex-girlfriend jealous by flirting with the pretty girl dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. The ex, the witch in the kitchen, was completely oblivious.

Sherlock's brain was beginning to rebel. He'd slip out and let Molly make his excuses. It wasn't like anyone actually wanted him here, and it was just fortunate that, busy as the party was, he'd yet to run into anyone with a grudge. If there was one thing he had plenty of, it was enemies. He walked into the kitchen and reached towards the counter to set down his half-empty wine glass, only to bump into a badly-dressed Superman in the back doorway.

"Oi!" As Superman blocked his way Sherlock realised with a heavy heart that it was Sebastian Wilkes. He glanced over Seb's shoulder and sure enough, there was Victor Trevor. Oh wonderful. A pair of idiot bullies who'd like nothing better than to beat him to a pulp. Again.

"What you are doing here, freak?" Seb hissed, "and what the fuck are you dressed as?!"

"If you must know, I'm the murderer from Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart," Sherlock said, moving to push past Seb to get out of the kitchen. His intention was leaving, as quickly as possible.

"Not so fast, you flouncy twat," Victor snarled as he grabbed hold of Sherlock's shirt. "Not here," Seb muttered, "get him outside."

"Why? So you can't be seen in my company?" Sherlock snapped, "or are you just afraid of Irene?"

"I'm not afraid of that cow," Seb spat, "I just don't want to get your blood all over her kitchen."

"Yes, that would be considered rude, I believe," Sherlock said, wincing as Victor dropped his fistful of shirt in favour of wrapping a meaty hand around Sherlock's throat. "Not here, I said! Back garden!"

Victor began pushing him towards the back door when a high-pitched giggle stopped them in their tracks.

John Watson. John Watson, laughing. And coming this way.

"Sherlock! There you are!" Molly yelled, causing all heads to turn in his direction. "What's... what's going on here?"

"About to ask that myself," John said, crossing his arms and fixing Victor with a stony glare. Victor instantly dropped his hand from around Sherlock's throat and Seb wrapped an arm heavily around Sherlock's shoulders in a crude gesture of mock-friendship.

"Nothing's going on here, Watson," he said in the slimiest of tones, "we were just remarking on Sherlock's costume. Too much foofaraw!" Victor sniggered.

"I dunno," John said easily, "I kinda like the foofaraw, but I agree, he'd look even better in something with some slink."

Sherlock's mouth dropped open at John's words. "I'll chip in for the slink," said John's companion, a tall boy with lovely brown eyes who Sherlock vaguely recognised as one of the rugby team's wingers. Gus? Graham? Geoff?

"Hell Cap, I think we could get the whole team to chip in some money for the slink," the boy continued, smiling at Sherlock over John's shoulder. Molly giggled into her hand at the expression on Seb and Victor's faces.

"I can hurt you," Seb whispered viciously as he and Victor pushed past John and his friend to leave the kitchen.

"Yeah, but we're just too pretty for that," John said, reaching up a hand to hold his friend's face. "I mean, look at that chiseled jaw!"

Seb made a disgusted noise and stormed away, Victor trailing behind him. John and his friend looked at each other and burst out laughing. Sherlock stared at them, grateful but thoroughly puzzled.

Molly giggled at his confused face, linked arms with him and proceeded to introduce them. "Guys, this is my friend Sherlock, Sherlock, this is Greg and John," she said grinning at his vague blush as he met John's gaze. John was smiling and his eyes sparkled. Sherlock nodded at them both and tried to extricate his arm from Molly's.

"So," John said, "was that really all about your costume? Who are you, then?"

Sherlock nodded and replied, "the murderer from Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart."

"Ah, Poe fan, should've guessed," John chuckled, "you've got the gothic romantic look alright." He winked at Sherlock and smiled, then elbowed Greg who was stifling giggles.

Sherlock frowned and took in John's costume. Dark red shirt, braces, light brown trousers tucked into boots, a holster with a plastic gun slung low across his hips, and a long brown coat.

"I'm afraid I don't know who you are though," he said. "Historically inaccurate rancher from the American West?"

John laughed, a sunny sound Sherlock immediately wanted to hear again and again. "Almost," he said, grinning. Greg gave up smothering his giggles and boldly wrapped an arm around Molly's waist. "Come on Molly, can I get you a drink?" He shot a pointed look at Sherlock and John, making Molly giggle.

John never looked away from Sherlock but called over his shoulder to Greg to request drinks for Sherlock and himself as well. "Sure thing, Cap'n Tightpants," Greg said, laughing as he and Molly headed for the sitting room.

"So," John said. "Haven't seen you at one of Irene's dos before. Couldn't resist dressing up for Halloween, huh?"

Sherlock snorted but allowed himself a small smile. "I never could resist a touch of the dramatic," he murmured. John raised a brow and grinned again, his eyes wandering over Sherlock's outfit again. Sherlock tried not to blush under the scrutiny.

"And what do you like to do when you're not being dramatic?" John asked with mock innocence. Sherlock frowned. This felt like a trap; if he was honest and said 'well John, I experiment and read chemistry texts and get punched for voicing my observations of the world around me', he was sure John would stop smiling at him like that and leave. If he didn't join the list of boys who'd punched Sherlock first. On the other hand if he lied, he'd have to come up with something plausible and hope that Molly didn't accidentally screw it up. Why was this so difficult?

"Uh, Sherlock? You alright?"

Sherlock blinked. "You back with me now? Was kinda hoping you'd say something, I like listening to you." John's voice was warm and amused, and he'd laid a hand on Sherlock's arm. John was touching him. And flirting with him. John Watson. Was touching Sherlock. And flirting. With Sherlock.

Sherlock did the only thing he could think of. He fled.

"Sherlock?!"

Sherlock ignored the tug in his chest at how hurt John sounded. He dashed through the back door, out through the garden and onto the street. This had been a mistake, coming to this party had been a mistake. Speaking to John, he couldn't think of that as a mistake because John had smiled, John had laughed. But if John knew about Sherlock, got to know how odd and weird and how much of a freak he was, then John would... He would...

"So you going to tell me what that was about?" John sounded a bit breathless and more than a bit annoyed as he caught up with Sherlock striding away from Irene's house. He took hold of Sherlock's sleeve to stop him. "Hey, Sherlock, just..."

"Stop it John! Just... Don't." Sherlock wrenched his arm away.

"Stop wha-?" John was clearly confused and it was almost funny. "Sherlock, I don't-"

"Yes, that's right. You don't," Sherlock muttered. He risked a glance at John; furrowed brow, licking his lips compulsively. Sherlock couldn't help himself watching that dart of pink between John's lovely lips. John looked up at him expectantly, hands on hips.

Sherlock sighed. "Look John, I am grateful for your intervention with Seb and Victor. But there's really no need to continue to interact with me. You pride yourself on looking out for those around you and though we've never spoken before tonight and since we likely never will again, please just stop. You can return to the party and nobody else need see you with me."

Sherlock turned around again and made to walk away from John. "What if I don't care who sees me with you?" John snapped. Sherlock stopped in his tracks. What?

"What if I want to be seen with you, huh?"

Sherlock stayed perfectly still as John walked towards him then came to stand directly in front of him. "Look, Sherlock," John said, "I have a small confession to make. I, um, I asked Molly to make sure you came tonight. I said if she got you here I'd promise to bring Greg. He's been drooling over her long enough, for fuck's sake. It's getting annoying. Though, I guess, um, he would say the same about me."

Sherlock's eyes widened. Well, that would explain much, if John-

"No, wait! That's... That came out wrong." John chuckled and ruffled his hair with one hand. "I don't mean I've been drooling over Molly." He cleared his throat and caught Sherlock's eyes. "I mean I've been drooling about you."

Sherlock was stunned and froze. That... Can't... John didn't... Did he?

"Sherlock, please say something. Or, ya know, blink at least?" Sherlock twitched and cocked his head to one side, sweeping his gaze over John searching for the lie. Finding none, he belatedly realised his mouth had dropped open.

"Yeah, not lying," John huffed with a grin. "See, I noticed you a long time ago. Bit hard not to, you weren't joking about a touch of the dramatic. And I wanted to... I wanted to just come up and talk to you. But I never did. You were so..." John sighed and looked away almost shyly before continuing. "You are way out of my league." Sherlock couldn't stifle a disbelieving snort at this last. John grinned.

"Yeah, laugh it up but it's true. I'd see you in the library, head bent in some bloody massive book I'd never in a million years understand. Molly told me you were a genius but yeah. Then you showed up at a couple of rugby games and I... I just hoped you weren't there to see anyone else. I wanted you to be there to see me, I imagined that you were. I saw you checking out Greg one time and I nearly lost it. So yeah, I dressed up as a space cowboy tonight in the hopes that you'd come with Molly, and leave... With me."

"Space cowboy?" Sherlock bit his lip and tried not smile. He failed miserably when John's face lit up. "Yep," John said, patting the plastic gun on his hip. "And this is my very favourite gun. I call her Vera."

Sherlock laughed. "Pleased to make her acquaintance. Though my days of taking you seriously are certainly coming to a middle."

John giggled and reached out to take Sherlock's hand. Sherlock's breath caught in his throat and he barely hid the shiver that rippled though him at John's touch to his bare skin. Oh.

"I should very muhc like to kiss you now, Sherlock," John whispered, pulling Sherlock close. "May I? May I kiss you?" Sherlock felt himself nod and then John was leaning up, pressing his gorgeous lips to Sherlock's and the earth suddenly either sped up or went wobbly on its axis or both. John's mouth was soft and warm and gentle and wonderful and Sherlock made a low noise deep in hs throat. At this, John smiled and then there was John's tongue, flicking out to tease Sherlock's lips to part and Sherlock gasped. John took advantage and his tongue swept into Sherlock's mouth, licking and caressing and Sherlock's knees were no longer bone, they were cotton wool. He clung to John's shoulders as they kissed and tried his best to stay upright under John's talented mouth and fingers.

Finally, John pulled back. Sherlock slowly opened his eyes, feeling dazed and happier than he ever thought possible. JOhn was grinning broadly, and he grasped Sherlock's hand in his own. "Shall we?" he said, gesturing back to Irene's house. "I want to show you off a bit, in your gorgeous dramatic costume."

Sherlock felt the heat of a blush creeping up his neck and across his cheekbones. He looked away from John's lovely smiling face and nodded.

"Brilliant," John breathed, and led them back to the party.

"There you are!" Molly squealed as they entered the kitchen. "Ooh, is this...?" She waved at their joined hands. John tightened his grip and tugged Sherlock closer, chin raised in cheerful defiance. Greg laughed and clapped John on the shoulder, then looked at Sherlock, eyes narrowed in mock concentration.

"You let him kiss you, didn't you?" he grinned. Sherlock blushed anew and looked at John, who merely winked. "I knew it!" yelled Greg triumphantly. Sherlock rolled his eyes and John squeezed his hand. This was the start of a new adventure, and Sherlock was looking forward to it. He felt like he'd done the impossible, and that made him mighty.