Nightclubs were not John’s natural habitat and they never had been. Even back in his college and Uni days he’d preferred a night out with the lads in a pub to going to a club. Nothing about getting pissed and dancing around to too-loud music looking like a right pillock had ever appealed to him. Which was why he wasn’t even sure how Sherlock had talked him into going to one. It was supposedly for a case, but John hadn’t entirely been convinced by Sherlock’s jumbled explanation.
Sherlock was off somewhere in the mass of writhing bodies on the dance floor, all of which seemed to be having fully clothed sex rather than actually dancing to the heavy, deafening baseline. John took a long drink from his bottle of beer and resigned himself to the fact that he was officially too old to even pretend he was enjoying a club anymore.
If anything, it just went to show what mad lengths he’d go to for Sherlock, with Sherlock, just because he’d asked John to with that mad, manic grin of his. John needed his head looked at, only he’d already tried with Ella and she hadn’t worked.
John thought he caught a glimpse of familiar black curls amongst the dancing masses, but if it was Sherlock he was gone before John could get a real lock on him.
“You don’t look like you’re enjoying yourself,” a voice said in his ear, and even though it was almost a shout over the noise of the music John still had to strain to understand it.
He turned away from his search of the dance floor for any trace of Sherlock to find he’d picked up some company without even trying. The man was younger than John, about the same height with short black hair and was wearing impossibly tight jeans with his Calvin Klein pants sticking out the top and a white tee shirt that might as well have been painted on.
John gave a guilty shrug. There wasn’t much point in denying it as he imagined the look on his face said it all.
The bloke pressed back in close to John, his breath hot and a little sour against John’s cheek as he asked, “Are you here with anyone?”
“Just a friend,” John shouted back above the noise, and then considered it. Were he and Sherlock friends? John would like to think so, but he wasn’t entirely sure how Sherlock would classify him. Sherlock had introduced John to that smarmy git Sebastian as his friend, but John suspected that was more about making a point to an old enemy than anything else.
“A friend, or a friend?”
“Just a friend,” John repeated, as firmly as he could, given the volume he had to shout at just to be heard. There wasn’t any doubt there, John was straight and Sherlock wasn’t interested in anyone, or anything.
“Oh,” the man’s mouth made the shape, but it was too quiet for John to hear. Then he crowded in against John again and he could smell the beer and shots on his breath. “My name’s Jim,” he said and then he was kissing John.
It was sloppy but enthusiastic and John was so shocked that he didn’t know what to do until there was a tongue in his mouth, trying rather hard to lick his back teeth. He pulled away, and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand instead of licking his lips and risking giving Jim any funny ideas.
Jim’s face fell and John honestly wondered what the bloody hell he thought he was up to. You didn’t just go around snogging blokes willy-nilly. Especially not straight ones.
“I’m not gay,” John said into Jim’s ear, trying not to shout the declaration as the music changed and for just a moment the volume levels inside the club dropped.
“Sorry,” he added, as it seemed like the right thing to do. He was turning the bloke down.
Jim shrugged, an embarrassed pink flushing his cheeks. “Worth a shot.”
John nodded in agreement. It wasn’t like he’d never taken any mad chances in the name of getting off, but if he was ever going to consider snogging a bloke (which he wasn’t) it wouldn’t be some random he met in a club.
Then Sherlock was there, gesturing frantically at John that they had to leave. John offered an apologetic hand wave to Jim, and then let Sherlock’s fingers circle his wrist and drag him into the night.
John shut the front door behind him and weighed up the cost of a taxi to Sarah’s against the inconvenience of being crammed up against other people on the underground during rush hour. He had almost committed to saving money and using the time on the tube to get annoyed at someone who wasn’t Sherlock for a change when he realised the bloke at the end of the street waving madly was actually waving at him.
John gave a little wave back, feeling a bit of a prat until the figure got close enough to be identified as Jim, Molly’s boyfriend from St. Bart’s IT. Then he very seriously considered a tactical retreat back into the flat.
As if it wasn’t awkward enough in the morgue when Molly introduced her new boyfriend and Sherlock declared him gay. John had recognised him immediately -- he wasn’t the sort of bloke that got chatted up in clubs anymore, and Jim wasn’t exactly forgettable either.
Him showing up on their doorstep was the last thing John wanted. In no way could he imagine that whatever happened next would do anyone any good.
“John,” Jim greeted, a little out of breath as he finally reached him. Jim was wearing a long, fitted, stylish grey coat with matching scarf and gloves, and some sort of man-bag over his shoulder. John had never been one to generalise, but the more he saw Jim the more he had to agree with Sherlock that Jim appeared almost stereotypically gay, whether he was or not.
“Jim,” he returned with a smile. He might not have been pleased to see Jim, but that was no reason not to be polite while he tried to escape. “Sherlock’s inside, I’m off out so just ring the bell. He might not want to be disturbed though, so don’t be too put out if he doesn’t answer.”
“Oh, no,” Jim said, catching John’s arm before he could slip past, and looked a bit flushed. “It was you I wanted. To see, that is, it was you I came to see.”
Jim laughed nervously and John gave his watch a sneaky look, he was going to be late for dinner with Sarah if Jim kept him too long.
“Right-o, what can I do for you then, Jim?”
“I wanted to say thank you, for the other day,” Jim said and made a little hand gesture.
He didn’t need to elaborate, and John thought it was probably best all-around if he didn’t try. “It was nothing.”
Jim bit his bottom lip and shifted. In the streetlight he looked a bit creepy, but John blamed that on spending too much time with Sherlock, seeing the worst in everyone.
“It wasn’t nothing, you really didn’t have to,” Jim paused and John waited, trying to resist the urge to look at his watch again. “Why did you defend me?”
John sighed and pulled his coat closer around himself against the chill that was starting to build in his bones. He hoped Jim might take the hint. “Because Sherlock was being a total prat, and it wasn’t his place to say what he did in front of Molly.”
“Even though you know I’m gay?”
John shrugged and wanted the conversation to be over. It was awkward enough after Sherlock’s little deduction without adding that Jim tried to pull him in a nightclub last month into the equation. “I don’t know anything.”
And John didn’t, not really. Just because Jim had tried to give him a drunken snog once didn’t mean he was gay. It didn’t even necessarily mean he was bisexual. All it meant as far as John was concerned was that he’d been snogged by a bloke and he wasn’t overly keen on repeating the experience.
Jim looked crestfallen, “You don’t remember me?”
John fought the urge to roll his eyes. “It wasn’t me you gave your number to, was it?” He pointed out, perhaps a little too sharply because Jim looked like a kicked puppy.
“You said you weren’t interested, so I thought-,” Jim attempted but John didn’t let him finish.
“Look, however you end that sentence, it’s not going to endear me to you. You slipped a bloke your number right in front of your girlfriend. I don’t care if it was Sherlock or me, but that’s not on.”
Jim looked down at his shoes, and asked in a small voice, “Would you still have defended me?”
“Yes,” John said, he didn’t even need to think about it. “But not for you, for Molly. She doesn’t deserve that.”
“Even though she’s only using me to make Sherlock jealous?” Jim asked and John had to admit, he probably had a point there. Molly’s crush on Sherlock was practically visible from space and as for Jim… John didn’t even know where to start with Jim.
It was impossible to tell if he was after John, or Sherlock, or maybe wanted them both for a threesome. Either way, it needed to be stopped before it got even more out of hand and anyone got their hopes up.
“Yeah, well that’s not going to work, and neither is you slipping him your number.”
“Oh. Oh, are you two-?” And John knew exactly where that assumption was going.
“No. Definitely no,” he said and considered it for his headstone. Correcting the assumption that he and Sherlock were together was starting to become second nature.
“But you want to be?” Jim asked as he looked up at John, a sad little smile curling the edge of his lips. There was something John couldn’t identify but wasn’t sure he liked in Jim’s eyes.
“I’m not gay,” John reminded him. He thought that was a point Jim might have remembered from their first encounter.
“That’s not an answer,” Jim said, closing the distance between them. As Jim invaded John’s space, backing him up against the door to 221B, there was nowhere to go, no escape.
Jim smiled, a strange mix of coy and predatory all at the same time and John’s heart thundered in his chest. “I have a girlfriend,” he pointed out and tried to ignore the way his voice shook.
“So do I,” Jim whispered, slipping his hands inside John’s coat to curl around his waist. John squirmed under the touch as Jim pressed in, impossibly closer. “But we all know the truth, it’s all about Sherlock. It’s always about Sherlock, and he doesn’t care, so all we’ve got is each other.”
Before John could say anything, tell Jim just how wrong he was, they were kissing for a second time. Jim’s lips were warm and insistent against John’s own and for just a moment he was tempted, because Jim was probably right. It was all about Sherlock, the insufferable git, and it always would be.
John felt a pinch at his neck.
He gasped at the sting into Jim’s mouth, and Jim used the opportunity to slip him the tongue. John knew that pinch, it felt just like a –
The world went black before John could finish the thought.
Moriarty stood and grinned at John smugly as he carefully did up the zip of the semtex vest. They’d been through all the gloating, all the explanations and John was doing his best to be stoic whilst planning all the ways he was going to kill Sherlock if they made it out alive.
“You see,” Moriarty said almost conversationally, “the problem with Sherlock is that he doesn’t notice the little things. You need to make a big gesture to get his attention, but you wouldn’t know about that, would you Johnny-boy? Getting his attention.”
John swallowed. “I don’t know what you mean.”
Moriarty nosed at John’s cheek as he pulled the parka on and covered up the vest full of explosives with its heavy weight. “Oh, but I think you do.”
“Nope,” John insisted, head still reeling from the fact that Jim from IT, Jim that snogged him in a club was Moriarty. Sherlock’s not-so-secret admirer. “No idea.”
“Denial doesn’t look pretty on you, John,” Moriarty snapped, before biting hard at John’s jaw. “All those feelings you have for Sherlock, he’s never going to notice, or care. Good little John, the loyal pet, is all you’ll ever be to him. But don’t you worry, I know exactly what you want.”
John opened his mouth to deny it, to deny everything. Sherlock was all consuming, and he’d brought John back to life after the war but that didn’t mean John wanted him.
Moriarty laughed, then grabbed John by the scruff of his neck and kissed him hard. It was violent and unpleasant, but at least this time it was closed mouthed. Moriarty’s phone beeped and he pulled away, licking his lips.
A glance at his phone and then he was laughing. He smacked John on the arse and declared, “Time to play!”
John dropped the shopping and reached for his gun. Only his gun wasn’t tucked in the back of his jeans as he’d only been to Tesco, and not out with Sherlock chasing armed and dangerous lunatics around London.
John would normally be safe coming home from the shops with bread, milk and kitchen cleaner. Normally the only lunatic in the flat was Sherlock, and John knew exactly how to deal with him.
Moriarty chuckled, and spun John’s browning around between his thumb and index finger, the safety thankfully still on. “Looking for this, Johnny-boy?”
“What do you want?” John asked, keeping as calm as humanly possible when the mad man that almost blew you up two months ago was sitting in your living room.
Moriarty patted the empty sofa cushion beside him. “A little chat with my favourite pet.”
“I’m not your pet,” John growled and stood his ground.
Moriarty gave him a sly smile, “No. You’re dear little Sherlock’s aren’t you? But you could be mine,” Moriarty said and John was horrified to realise it was a genuine offer. “I’d take much better care of you.”
Then Moriarty was out of his seat, gun abandoned on the end of the sofa and too far out of John’s reach to be of any use. John didn’t move as Moriarty nosed at his neck, nimble hands rubbing circles over his stomach.
“Still not gay,” John breathed and Moriarty laughed into his neck.
“Now we both know that’s beside the point.”
“Oh, I think it’s very much the point,” John said, considering his options. Other than not demonstrating any techniques for the safe handling of handguns, Moriarty hadn’t given any indication he wanted to do anything to John. Anything other than recruit him, or possibly molest him, and though he had no interest in either happening they were better than possible death, and easier to handle.
If things did turn nasty, the gun was still on the sofa, and the both the kitchen knives and the one Sherlock used to pin bills to the mantelpiece were all too far away to be of any help. The only possible advantage John had was his army training, though he didn’t doubt that Moriarty wouldn’t be a push over in a fight. Even if he did look like an easy target in those ridiculous suits of his, John could feel the muscles underneath them.
Moriarty tutted against John’s jaw, “Oh but there’s no need for that, my love. I’m just here for a little chat.”
John resisted the urge to knee Moriarty in the bollocks. The last thing he wanted with Moriarty was a little chat, especially when he seemed to be just as good as Sherlock at reading his mind.
“Tell me, why did your last girlfriend dump you?”
“How do you-?”
“And the delightful Doctor Sawyer, what was it she said?” Moriarty interrupted, slyly.
“How-?” John tried again, but Moriarty still wouldn’t let him finish.
“Sherlock,” he whispered in John’s ear, his warm breath sending an involuntary shiver down John’s spine. Moriarty shifted, curling both hands around John’s waist and standing so they were eye to eye. “They all know the truth, that no matter what happens they’ll always come second to Sherlock Holmes, that they aren’t enough to change your mind. Or your priorities.”
John snorted out a laugh of disbelief, unable to stop himself. “And you think you are? That I’ve suddenly turned gay for Sherlock and I’ll stay gay for you?”
Moriarty laughed until he was breathless, and then released John with one hand to wipe away his tears of mirth before pulling him back in tight. “I thought I told you, it’s not about if you’re gay. That would be easy. Sherlock is so very pretty; if you just wanted to fuck him then you’d be just like everyone else. No, this is better.”
Moriarty leaned in, and John knew whatever came out of his mouth next was not going to be good.
“You’re in love with Sherlock,” Moriarty declared and something inside John’s chest stopped for what seemed like a lifetime. “And you have to know that can’t end well.”
“You’re wrong,” John said, though he didn’t even sound convincing to his own ears.
“I’m never wrong,” Moriarty replied, practically dripping with self-confidence. “Think about my offer, but don’t tell Sherlock. I’ll make you very sorry if you do.”
Then Moriarty’s face wrinkled up and he rubbed his nose against John’s in what was suspiciously like an Eskimo-kiss before he was gone. Running down the flat’s stairs, an overly cheerful toodle-pip echoing down the hall just before the front door slammed.
Ten minutes later Sherlock came home to find John stood exactly where Moriarty had left him, still in a state of horrified shock. Sherlock breezed past, and then turned back around to stare at John.
Sherlock frowned, and pointed out, “There’s milk on the floor,” as if there was nothing else wrong with the tableau he’d returned to. As if John hadn’t just received one of the most world-changing realisations and morally dubious propositions of his adult life from Jim Moriarty.
John was glad to see that Sherlock had finally gone when he woke up on the fourth day of his hospitalisation. It hadn’t quite been the simple flesh wound he’d been trying to convince Sherlock it was, but it also wasn’t the amputation-worthy injury you’d think if you listened to Sherlock describe it.
If he didn’t deny all possible accusations of it being a serious injury, Sherlock would be impossible. It had already taken four days to get him to go home for a change of clothes.
Of course, John wouldn’t have twelve stitches a little closer to the femoral artery in his left thigh than he’d like if Sherlock hadn’t been such a bloody great berk in the first place. John honestly wasn’t sure anymore how Sherlock managed to survive before John started jumping in front of things like moving vehicles, bullets and angry old women with shopping bags for him. He wouldn’t mind so much if Sherlock wasn’t so ridiculously careless with his own safety.
Sherlock might not value his own wellbeing, but John did, and most of the time enough for the both of them.
“I thought I’d bring you some flowers,” a horribly familiar voice sung from the doorway.
Something cold and hard curled its way around John’s heart. To say he wasn’t a fan of Moriarty’s little visits would have been the understatement of the century.
Moriarty was in fact holding flowers. It wouldn’t take much to beat the meagre bunch of pansies from Harry or the now slightly wilted begonia Mrs Hudson had brought from her window box, but Moriarty’s made them all look like dead daisies.
He was holding at least two-dozen red roses, all perfectly packaged. John’s heart hammered inside his chest and he considered pressing the call button on his bed. Then he noticed the little bump in the line of Moriarty’s suit, which meant there was a gun under his arm and John had no doubts that Moriarty would use it inside a crowded hospital. Would probably enjoy using it too.
“Aren’t you going to say thank you?” Moriarty whined, with an over exaggerated pout as he stepped into the room and closed the door behind him. “After I came all this way. Of course, it took me a while to be able to see you, what with Sherlock hanging around like a bad smell.”
Moriarty put the flowers on the small table beside John’s bed, dwarfing the small collection of books and the occasional get well soon card that had accumulated during his stay.
“Looks like you finally made that big gesture, eh?” Moriarty continued, ignoring that for all intents and purposes he was having an entirely one-sided conversation. If Moriarty really was even half as good as Sherlock, he could read everything John might say in his face anyway. “Not really why you did it though, and it’s hardly the first time you’ve thrown yourself in the firing line for Sherlock is it now?”
John swallowed and watched as Moriarty moved around to the end of John’s bed and flipped through his chart.
“Such a close call this time, hmm Johnny-boy? Was Sherlock finally moved? Has he tried to kiss you yet, or has that just been my pleasure?”
John put everything he had into not showing a single emotion on his face, or in his body language. Moriarty cackled and clapped his hands, and John knew he’d failed. Miserably.
John glared, and wondered if there was anything in the room he could use to murder Moriarty with. Moriarty read his intentions instantly and tutted, his face turning serious as he continued around the bed, one hand stroking up John’s leg until he was close enough to run his hand through John’s hair.
John didn’t bother to try and repress his shudder.
“Does it hurt? Knowing that for all the love you have for Sherlock, he’ll never return it?”
“It doesn’t matter,” John said because it was true. Moriarty could think what he wanted, the mad Irish bastard, but he was wrong. It didn’t matter if John was in love with Sherlock, because he was still into tits and women, and even if he were to have a sudden middle-aged sexuality crisis, Sherlock wasn’t interested.
Sherlock had made it perfectly clear from the start that he wasn’t even capable of being in love with anyone, or even attracted to someone. That was all okay because John had the closest thing Sherlock was able to give. His friendship.
No matter what Moriarty said, it was all that mattered.
“Oh but it does,” Moriarty cooed, “and we both know it. How long until he breaks your heart, John?”
John refused to give Moriarty any sort of response.
Moriarty stroked his hair again, and gave him a soft, pitying smile. John just hoped this meant the visit was nearly over.
“Now you remember, when he finally breaks your heart,” Moriarty whispered, pausing only to press an almost tender kiss to John’s lips. “That I’ll be here, waiting for you. Jim’ll fix it.”
“Never was a fan of Jimmy Saville,” John retorted and Moriarty laughed so hard that there were tears in his eyes as he sauntered out of John’s room, blowing a kiss goodbye.
John returned Irene Adler’s file, minus her phone, to Mycroft and then ignored the rain and went to Regents Park. He couldn’t be sure if he’d fooled Sherlock, but either way it brought an end to the whole Adler mess and even if Sherlock didn’t need some time alone, John did.
Adler was gone and Sherlock was betrayed and heartbroken. She’d as good as said to John in Battersea what Moriarty had been telling him for months. Just because he wasn’t gay didn’t mean he wasn’t in love with Sherlock.
It had all been fine, and John had been happy, right up until Adler had walked in and proved him and Moriarty wrong.
Sherlock was capable of feeling, and it was all for her.
The park was empty, the morning-long rainstorm having chased everyone away, but the umbrella that suddenly sheltered him came as no surprise. John was expecting another visit from Moriarty.
“Terrible news about Ms Adler,” Moriarty said, linking his arm through John’s.
“Here to gloat?” John asked, stopping their progress up the path and turning to face Moriarty.
“Would I?” There was a definite hint of smugness behind the mock offense Moriarty was playing up.
“Yes,” John said, closing the distance between the two of them. “You might have been wrong about Sherlock not being able to love, but you were right about me. About him breaking my heart.”
Moriarty leaned in, holding the umbrella above them in one hand and slipping the other around John’s waist. He grinned like a snake, and licked his lips. “And now you want Jim to fix it?”
“Yes,” John breathed and met Moriarty in the middle.
The kiss was explosive. All teeth and tongue, spit, and desperate, needy groans that Moriarty swallowed greedily. John kissed back until Moriarty was breathless and then kissed him again.
Moriarty’s eyes were closed and John slipped his free hand into his pocket. His fingers curled around cool, familiar metal, and he whimpered extra loud to cover the tell-tale snick as he pulled it free.
The knife was sharp, and slipped into Moriarty’s stomach like it was warm butter. Moriarty staggered out of their kiss with a gasp of shock, and pain, and his fingers gripped John’s waist so hard he wouldn’t be surprised to find bruises forming the next day. The umbrella dropped to the ground.
John took a moment to memorise the look of complete and utter surprise on Moriarty’s face before he pulled the knife out.
“I’m not as stupid as you and Sherlock seem to think I am,” John pointed out, almost casually as Moriarty pressed his hand to the wound, blood seeping through his fingers.
“Mycroft told me how you gave Irene tips on how to handle Sherlock,” John continued. Moriarty coughed and blood bubbled up into his mouth. John folded the knife back in on itself and dropped it back into his coat pocket. “Was that your big plan to burn the heart out of Sherlock? Make me admit I was in love with him, only to have to watch Sherlock fall for someone else? To have Adler break his heart and then drive me away as well?”
Blood trickled down Moriarty’s chin from the corner of his mouth. Another gurgled cough and Moriarty couldn’t hold himself up any longer. John watched as he dropped to the ground, and then glanced around the park. No one in sight.
If Moriarty wasn’t found it would be a slow and painful death. If he was found, it still might be a long and painful death, but if John wasn’t that lucky it would be a long and slow recovery. And a permanent reminder that John Watson was not a man to be fucked with.
John walked away, back towards Baker Street. Sherlock was waiting.