John happened upon this discovery quite by accident. It had been a hard day at work, more for the unendurable monotony than anything else. The peak of his day at the surgery was a young woman with a twisted ankle that they thought might be broken. When the x-rays came back, he was actually disappointed.
Sherlock was changing his way of thinking more than the war had. Sometimes, he realized that he should be worried. Most of the time, he couldn't understand how he lived so long without this. How did he manage the boredom before Sherlock came along?
Work was made into a particular agony because he knew Sherlock was at home working through the first interesting case - Sherlock's words, not John's- that they'd had in two weeks.
Somehow, the same man had been murdered three times. First in his London flat in 1998. Again in Australia in 2003. And then for the final time just two days ago in the bathroom of a local club. Each case had a body, positively identified as this man. Scotland Yard was completely flummoxed. Sherlock was exhilarated. John was in physical pain that he couldn't afford to call off from another shift. He limped all the way to work, certain that Sherlock was going to figure it out while he was gone and run off to solve it without him.
Sherlock kept sending him texts during the day as if just to make sure he wouldn't forget. As if he could. If he didn't know better, he'd think his friend was taunting him, punishing him for choosing the surgery and unpaid bills over The Work. Of course, John did know better and that sounded just like Sherlock. The bastard.
There's a reason it was where we unburdened our prisons. SH
Like Georgia. SH
The state. Not the country. SH
OUT OF FORMALDEHYDE. SH
Have you planned your funeral? SH
Have you planned mine? SH
DO NOT LET ANDERSON ANYWHERE NEAR MY BODY. SH
Shoot to kill, if you must. SH
Do you think it'd be exciting to be murdered? SH
MILK. PIG'S BLOOD. PATCHES. SH
The good thing about the texts was that they reassured John that Sherlock wasn't running around central London solving a case without him. The bad thing was that they did their job and kept reminding John that there was somewhere else he'd much rather be.
After eight hours of that, he decided he deserved a treat. Obviously, Sherlock wasn't on the verge of a breakthrough and the only victim of this string of murders was locked up in the police morgue. No one was going to die if he took an extra ten minutes getting home. Plus, it'd annoy the hell out of Sherlock. He enjoyed doing that more than he should.
They had a complicated relationship.
So John stopped at the grocer's and got himself a pint of the most expensive vanilla bean ice cream they had. Since he knew they had pig's blood and nicotine patches here - and what did that say about him?- he picked up the rest of the grocery list while he was at it. He smiled to himself as he paid for all items with Sherlock's card.
When he arrived home, Sherlock was laying on the couch in prime prayer position. John enjoyed it a little too much when he dropped the package of nicotine patches onto his flat mate's head. He ignored Sherlock's scowl and the sound of the package being ripped open. After setting the plastic container of pig's blood into the refrigerator on Sherlock's designated science shelf and putting the milk as far away from that shelf as possible, John finally turned his attention to the ice cream.
Strangely enough, Sherlock was far less talkative now that John was home. He wasn't even whining about John being late. He must have finally entered the critical stage of his deductions. Until he had the entire thing figured out, Sherlock would now be moody and socially disconnected. Well, more so than usual. He definitely wouldn't be eating now. John was happy that he didn't even have to offer to make Sherlock a bowl out of politeness' sake.
Once he'd served himself, he brought the bowl with him into the living room, sat down and began to enjoy. After the journey home, the ice cream was at that perfect temperature, cold but creamy. The subtle earthy-sweet taste of vanilla bean melted over his tongue, reminding him of the scorching Afghanistan sun and daydreams of this simple luxury. To his dismay, he might've even made a sound of pleasure, not a groan surely but maybe a satisfied, "Mmm."
The sofa creaked.
He glanced over and found Sherlock watching him. His friend often watched him eat. It was to be expected when John so often ate while Sherlock didn't. But there was something different about this time. Perhaps it was the memories of longing he had tied up into the experience and the frustration of a long day away from Sherlock and the case. Maybe it was the way John had been so caught up in his physical craving and the pleasure of giving in to it. Possibly, it was the fact that John could see Sherlock gulp across the room while his eyes focused on the spoon pulling out from between John's lips. No matter the answer, it felt like he had been caught out in something private.
He shivered and it wasn't because of the cold.
"What's that?" Sherlock asked.
"Ice cream." John decided he wasn't going to stop eating just because his friend was watching. He purposefully scooped up a large portion, the kind where it took two tries to get it all off the spoon. He dedicated himself to the first taste, thinking the conversation over.
He pulled the spoon out of his mouth to answer. Though, for the life of him, he couldn't understand why Sherlock would care. Glancing down at the bowl, he hoped he wasn't about to be told that it had been used for some experiment involving chemicals that reacted lethally to certain artificial flavors. Was there even such a thing? No doubt if there was Sherlock would know because he'd done an experiment. Hopefully not in John's bowl. It was a blue bowl. Blue bowls were for eating. White bowls were for experimenting. Though, it wouldn't be the first time Sherlock got that wrong.
"Vanilla," he answered. Sherlock rolled off the sofa onto his feet and in four long strides -two being over the coffee table of course- he was taking the spoon out of John's hand.
Any sound of outrage he might have had about personal space died in his throat when he saw the spoon disappear between Sherlock's lips. All he could think was that a second ago that had been in his mouth. And though Sherlock probably didn't realize how intimate that could be, he had to know how unhygenic that was.
"I was using that," John said. Sherlock turned the spoon over and gave it one more tidy lick before dropping it back in the bowl with a clang.
John swallowed past a dry throat.
"I'll take a serving," Sherlock told him, while prowling back to take up his former dramatic pose on the sofa. "Small," he clarified. "Very small."
Without thought, John got up to get him a bowl, feeling a little bit like Pavlov's dog. But once his brain seemed to reboot itself, something occurred to him. "Wait, I thought you didn't eat during a case."
Sherlock sighed like in a B-grade movie. "Obviously, I am making an exception."
"It's vanilla ice cream."
Not only was Sherlock willing to make an exception that once, but on a hunch the next morning, John set another small bowl on Sherlock's chest for breakfast. His friend was too distracted by the case to look at it or even acknowledge that John brought it, but he did eat it. After several repeat experiments, John found that though Sherlock might not sleep or eat during a case, vanilla ice cream was always an exception. It was hardly healthy but when Sherlock went days without eating, calories were calories and John was concerned about these kinds of things.
He made sure there was always a carton in the freezer. For both of them.