John’s lost count of how many times they’ve been to Angelo’s now. Sherlock almost certainly knows the exact figure, but John isn’t going to ask. He’s too busy being annoyed as usual by Angelo’s determination to treat him as Sherlock’s date.
“I’ll get a candle for the table,” Angelo says, for the umpteenth time. “It’s more romantic.”
“I’m not his date,” John says, but he says it under his breath. Because saying the same thing time after time makes him feel stupid, comical, as if he’s trapped in a film clip on YouTube that keeps being replayed and never moves on. Maybe there’s something he could do or say to break the pattern, but he hasn’t found what it is yet.
They could go to a different restaurant, of course. But somehow they never do if he’s in the mood for Italian.
Sherlock rarely seems to be interested in one kind of food rather than another, or indeed in food at all; so it’s John’s preferences, more often than not, that dictate what they eat. And John is very fond of pasta.
Angelo brings the candle, lights it, beams at the two of them and goes off radiating tact.
“Every time he does that I keep expecting singing chefs to appear with accordions,” John grumbles.
Sherlock looks puzzled.
“Like in Lady and the Tramp,” John says.
Sherlock continues to look blank.
Should have known his childhood wouldn’t include anything as normal as cartoons.
“It’s a Disney animation,” John says, not sure why he’s even trying to explain this, except that Sherlock hasn’t yet said that it sounds dull. Come to think of it, Sherlock hardly ever says that these days. Not about things that John says anyway. Odd.
“It’s about two dogs,” John says, “a pedigree spaniel bitch and a mongrel, and they -” fall in love, he was going to say, but that would just be embarrassing. “They - go to an Italian restaurant and the chefs serenade them with a song about what a beautiful night it is. Anyway, every time Angelo does that thing with the candle -”
“So which of us is which?” Sherlock asks.
“What?” John’s not hearing this right, he can’t be.
“The pedigree bitch and the mongrel,” Sherlock says, a bit impatiently.
Well, you’re Lady, obviously, John thinks, because you’re beautiful and I’m just ordinary. He doesn’t say it, though. Can’t really tell Sherlock he sees him as the bitch in this scenario.
“I hadn’t thought about it,” he lies.
“Hmm,” Sherlock says, looking sceptical. “I assume, as it’s Disney, they don’t actually show the dogs copulating afterwards.”
John chokes on his breadstick. “No,” he says, “but there is a famous kiss where they’re eating the same strand of spaghetti without realizing it and -”
This would be the moment when the food arrives. John blushes and glares at the plate of spaghetti in front of him.
They eat in silence, not unusual for them, but there’s an air of constraint.
Sherlock looks thoughtful. “You always order spaghetti here,” he says. “Presumably that’s significant.”
He picks up one end of the last strand from John’s plate.
This is so not happening.
Sherlock gives him that look that makes John feel slightly dizzy. He’s done that a lot recently.
“You brought this up in the first place,” he says.
“Oh for goodness’ sake,” John says, exasperated. Can’t believe he’s got himself into this.
He picks up the other end of the strand.
The spaghetti breaks too soon, but Sherlock lands an awkward kiss on the side of John’s mouth just the same. The shock of feeling Sherlock’s mouth against his, even so briefly and clumsily, almost takes his breath away. A lot of disconnected images and recollections from the past few weeks seem suddenly and violently connected, as if the same electric current runs through all of them.
“Oh,” John says. He wonders what took him so long, and whether he’s literally the last to know.
“This spaghetti is clearly useless for the purposes of reconstruction,” Sherlock grumbles.
John finds that he’s laughing, partly at Sherlock being Sherlock, and partly from relief. Finally something different has happened; they’ve broken the pattern and the film has moved on.
He leans over, wipes a smear of sauce from the corner of Sherlock’s mouth with his thumb, and says “Shut up and kiss me again.”
To the satisfaction of Angelo and the assembled restaurant staff, Sherlock does.