“It’s perfectly reasonable!”
“No, it isn’t.”
“And why not?”
Sherlock pushed the lounge door open with a sigh. The argument had erupted shortly after they had left the crime scene, and had carried on throughout their walk and subsequent taxi ride home, and still John seemed no closer to accepting the obvious. “It is not reasonable or rational to take your income, money that you have earned, and pool it with someone else’s, giving them joint control of it. Money is power; if you let someone else control your money, you give them power over you; your choices are no longer your own, and you are effectively no longer an individual.” He slumped down in the nearest chair, looking up at John behind steepled fingers.
John stared back in obvious disbelief. Oh, wonderful; he was clearly shocked, possibly even appalled – they would be here all night. “For fuck’s sake, Sherlock; they were married.”
Sherlock’s lips twitched. ”And now you know why I dislike that so-called institution. Well. In part.”
“It’s not all married couples; some do, some don’t. These people did.”
“And look what happened to them.”
John let out a frustrated huff, crossing his arms as he always did when feeling defensive. Defensive? Whatever for? “Are you seriously arguing that Mr. and Mrs. Powell…”
“…Mr. Powell and Ms. Jennings; try not to rely on mid-twentieth century assumptions, John; it doesn’t suit you.”
“Whatever; are you suggesting that they ended up killing each other because they had a joint account?” John’s eyes were wide and incredulous, with just that little hint of condescension he reserved for occasion of particular disagreement.
“Of course not; it was an accident – I did explain how the mushrooms couldn’t possibly have been deliberately added to the soup – were you not there?”
Leaning back against the wall, sucking his cheeks in – his usual sign of extreme self-control – John sighed. “So what’s your point?”
“I was merely pointing out that giving up your individuality and financial control is one of the reasons why most marriages end up failing.”
It was cruel, perhaps, but Sherlock did take some amount of pleasure in the way John’s face contorted itself in anger and frustration before he managed to produce actual words. “You… I… Do you even understand the concept of…” With some amount of effort, John managed to school himself to calm, taking a few steps closer and pointing a shaking finger at Sherlock. “You’re always doing this. Why do you always do this?”
“Talk about…” the finger shook, dispersing into a general flailing of frustrated fingers, “relationships like you know anything about them!”
Sherlock tilted his head. Well now. Interesting change of subject. Potentially bothersome, but one never knew, with John. Worth pursuing, in any case. “I do know about relationships; it’s a vital part of my work.”
“In theory, yeah!”
“And practice is different?”
John’s face softened in that irritating way indicating both pity and lack of understanding. “The fact that you even have to ask that question…” His expression changed, subtly, and Sherlock sighed inwardly. Here it came. “Have you ever been in a relationship? At all?”
Stunned silence. The telltale sign. Christ; they would have to go through the whole annoying scene; all the ‘why’s’ and ‘how’s’ and questions and probing and ongoing confusion and inevitable offense when Sherlock had run out of ways in which to explain. Over and over again. Leaning back against his chair, he bit his lip, overcome, suddenly, with exasperation. He did not want to go through this again, not with John. “Oh,” John said, eventually. The air crackled with unasked questions.
It was always like this.
Old school friends, if that term was at all applicable, were the worst; one of a myriad reasons why Sherlock tended to avoid them. It didn’t matter how polite and understanding they tried to be – not that many of them were polite and understanding; if it somehow came to their attention that Sherlock had dated a girl for a while (seven months, to be exact; beginning on May 23rd 2004 and lasting until she went back to university and happily forgot all about him), it all ended in some variation of the same depressingly predictable conversation:
”I heard you got yourself a girlfriend!”
“I did. Not anymore.”
“Sorry to hear that.” (Awkward pause.) “Erm…”
“Please, just ask. It’s frustrating to watch you hold it in.”
“Well, I didn’t think you…”
“Didn’t think I what?”
“Well, you’re….” Here, the person would usually insert ‘gay’, or if they were trying to pretend they were more tolerant and informed, ‘asexual’, and Sherlock would have to sit there and justify his choices and behavior and attitudes, except, of course, he rarely bothered for more than a few minutes. Social niceties were boring, at the best of times.
John, Sherlock realized, still hadn’t said anything. In fact, he wasn’t even paying attention anymore, having retired to the kitchen, more or less contentedly fiddling about with a kettle. Right. Deliberately not trying to be pushy. That was almost the worst; it forced Sherlock to initiate the conversation. Sighing, he took a step in John’s direction, speaking quickly to get it overwith.
“We met during a case. I won’t tell you her name, because it’s not my business to do so, and yes, I did say she; I saw the way your eyes shifted. I’m not generally attracted to women or men, certainly not women, but as it happened…” John had begun to shake his head, more vigorously as Sherlock went on, and how he held a hand out, shouting.
“Sherlock!” His eyes were wide and questioning, and somehow… hurt? Curious. “Did I ask?”
“No. But you wanted to.”
“Why would I want to?”
“Everyone does. I don’t know why, but everyone seems to want my sexual history and orientation neatly laid out and presented, with diagrams if possible.”
“And you tell them?”
“But you were going to tell me.”
“Yes.” John… John, Sherlock realized, with something of a shock, was different. Why?
“Sherlock…” The water had begun to boil, so John turned to tend to it, his back to Sherlock, no less emotive than his face. “When we’d just met, at the restaurant, and you told me you didn’t have a boyfriend or a girlfriend…”
Sherlock watched John’s hands move about, adding tea and water to the kettle, finding cups and setting them neatly out.
“Didn’t bring it up again, did I?” He turned, cups in hand, holding one out to Sherlock. After a moment’s hesitation, Sherlock took it.
“No. You didn’t.”
John smiled. “Right. And I won’t. Not my business anyway, is it?”
The smell of freshly brewed tea began to waft through the air, and Sherlock found himself smiling.
“Just… one thing.”
Sherlock’s smile faded. Well, honestly. What had he been expecting?
“Did you have a joint account?”
The tea, as it turned out, was delicious.