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Jeu d'esprit

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John was, as a rule, not much of a optimist, but he still felt his spirits sink when he heard the notes being scraped out above him as he mounted the stairs to the flat. Sherlock didn't look up when he closed the door. He was still in the same chair John had left him in that afternoon, apparently without having moved. And still doing what had driven John to Sarah's.

Really, there was only so much he could be expected to stand. Two weeks ago, it had been knife-throwing. Last week, it was chemical experiments that made the place reek of sulfur and ate through the finish on the table when he'd knocked over a beaker. They still hadn't told Mrs. Hudson. And now this.

"Ah. You're playing," John muttered, watching Sherlock's elongated shadow move with an odd formality against the further wall.

"What," Sherlock said, his eyes fixed on a distant point and glittering. Not even interested enough to make it a proper question.

"You're playing," he said more loudly. "The violin."

"Brilliant deduction."

"Just the way you were when I left." John paused. "Eight hours ago."

"I'm sorry, is it bothering you?" Sherlock said with utter insincerity.

John knew better than to engage with that question directly. Instead, he leaned against one of the bookshelves and folded his arms. "Isn't your arm tired?"

"Of course my arm's not tired. I don't get tired. What I do get is bored. Do you know how long it's been since I've had a proper case? You don't, do you."

"As a matter of fact, I do," John said. "Two months and three days. You've complained about it every single day for the last half of it."

Perhaps he shouldn't mind. The last time Sherlock had been bored, he'd ended up buttoned into a coat full of explosives, breathing an air heavy with mist, watching Sherlock watch the red circle on his coat and waiting for the sound of the sniper's bullet that would end it all. That was worse, right? Very definitely worse.

"Hmph," Sherlock said, a little piqued. After a minute--just enough to let him pretend that it wasn't John who'd made him do it--he stopped playing, turned, and looked up at him. Result. Sherlock's pupils were dilated, his fingers dancing on the curve of the reddish-brown wood. "If I can't work, and I can't play, what do you expect me to do?"

He sounded petulant. Sometimes it was like living with a seven-year-old. A seven-year-old who liked to keep severed heads in the refrigerator. "I don't know. What did you do before I came along?"

It was a good question, now he thought of it, but Sherlock only shook his head slightly and looked back out the window. His fingers kept twitching on the violin, but he didn't start playing again. He sniffled and wiped impatiently at his nose with his sleeve. Now there was definitely a tremor to his hand; he stilled it with the other.

John had seen this sort of thing before, but it took him a moment to realize he was seeing it now. He stared. "Did you take something, Sherlock?"

"Don't be stupid, John, of course I did. You're a doctor and you can't recognize the signs of cocaine use at a glance?"

Of course. The drugs raid during the Study in Pink. So much had happened so quickly after that that John had been able to let the whole peculiar incident slip from his mind. It couldn't have been that serious.

He should have known better. Everything about Sherlock was serious.

"I'm not exactly a prude about these things," John said, "but for someone who works so closely with the police--"

"Oh, Lestrade knows. He's willing to overlook it as long as I keep hiding his incompetence from the public. Don't worry, it's medical grade. Like some?"

"No, I really wouldn't. I know you're bored, but you couldn't manage with a nice joint or two?"

"Marijuana makes you stupid," Sherlock said. "Stupid-er. Cocaine gives my mind the stimulation it requires. It makes the world seem interesting despite its relentless mundanity." He rose abruptly, discarding the violin on the table with an alarming clunk. "It can even make you at your most mediocre have a certain fascination."

"Oh, I have a certain fascination?"

"Yes, even you. For instance..." Sherlock's eyes went back to him, and John could see the sudden turning of gears in his mind. He was across the room in a flash, one hand tilting John's head up to the light. "Pupils: dilated."

"Yes, the light--"

Sherlock seized his wrist with his other hand. "Heart rate: elevated." His hand dropped from John's face to his chest. "Rate of respiration: also elevated. All, you will note, as a result of sudden close proximity to me. Conclusion: despite apparently interminable series of dates with not entirely unattractive female, subject is not 100% heterosexual."

John stood still, very still. Sherlock's narrowed, amused eyes watched him for--what? A reaction? Confirmation? Sherlock's grip was dry and definite, and his abrupt attention was transfixing. John felt himself caught in that focus, absorbed like the incriminatory detail of cigarette ash on a sleeve.

But there was nothing to betray here, at least, for John. Not anymore. Well, it had been coming. Might as well get it over with. He cleared his throat and, without trying to move away, said, "So what?"

Sherlock blinked. "So what?"

"I'm not, as it happens, 100% heterosexual," John said, "but as you're married to your work, whether I find you attractive or not is one of those irrelevant things you needn't clutter up your hard drive with."

He expected Sherlock to let him go then. But he didn't. Instead, he raised his eyebrows and huffed, a short breath, like he'd made an observation that surprised him a little. Then he said, musingly, "But there is no work."

Sherlock's focus was beginning to feel like a challenge. John couldn't remember him ever looking at him for so long at once. "Are you going to let me go now that you've made your observations? This is getting a little uncomfortable."

"I don't think so." Sherlock tilted his head. "If it were, you'd be getting irritated with me. And when you're irritated with me, you hold your mouth at a particular angle."

"And I'm not irritated right now?"

"That's the interesting thing. You were before, but now...I...don't...think...you...are."

John hesitated in contradicting him, only for a moment, and Sherlock ducked his head in, and his mouth found John's. John started, violently, once. Then his nerves steadied, his senses cleared, and he kissed him back. Sherlock's fingers were moving slowly, methodically, over John's chest, the faintest edge of tremble in his fingertips. He smelled of rosin and the fallen leaves outside. His narrow form radiated warmth.

Oh, this felt good. Not exactly what he'd expected getting up this morning, but, like a startling number of things in his new life--good. John felt dissolved in concentration. He had Sherlock to thank for teaching him this, that you could achieve this rush even back home, in the brown and grey of the London he had always known. That it waited for you in every drop of water, on every cobblestone, within every shadow.

This was such a bad idea. He wouldn't be so calm if it weren't.

Sherlock finally broke the kiss--or perhaps it hadn't lasted that long to begin with.

"What about now?" John said. Breathless. Yes, rate of respiration was unquestionably elevated. A giggle almost escaped him.

"Definitely not," Sherlock said. That improbable smile bubbled over on his lips. He probably thought he was keeping still, but John could see the vibrations that ran all through him. "I didn't expect you'd be like this, John."

"You didn't."

"No, I thought you'd deny it and I could spend the afternoon arguing about it."

"Then I've surprised you." Surprised, or disappointed. Sherlock's tone was just wistful enough that John couldn't be sure. He decided to assume he had the position of strength. "Good."

"Don't get used to it." Sherlock stood a moment in thought. "I suppose it's a very bad idea to have any...sort of involvement...with your flatmate."

"Absolutely," John agreed. "Terrible idea. Terrible."

Sherlock raised an eyebrow. "Shall we--?"

He didn't even know why he was phrasing it as a question. "Yes. Let's."