John didn’t usually think of himself as a “clothes” type of bloke - that had always been more Sherlock’s domain, if anything. Which meant that even after an extra-thorough shower and nearly forty-five minutes of standing in front of his wardrobe, he still didn’t have a clue what to wear to a first date. Well, not really a first date - the first date. Meeting William face-to-face. In person. Being within touching range.
What did he even look like? His emails had all been so carefully devoid of actual details - even when he did drop something here or there, it was always so vague. Tall, that part he was forthright about, and - reading between the lines - probably on the thin side. Glasses, although there was no way to know whether he wore them all the time and, specifically, whether he’d be wearing them tonight. John found himself imagining someone vaguely professorial - William was intelligent, obviously, and in John’s mind he looked it. He couldn’t be as brilliant as Sherlock had been, because nobody could be as brilliant as Sherlock had been, but he’d already proved he could write well and oh god, what if he was ugly? What if he was gorgeous?
It doesn’t matter - he’s going to be there for you. He’s already seen your pictures, so he’s not going to reject you based on your sodding clothes. John closed his eyes, reached into his wardrobe, and grabbed the first shirt his fingers touched. Then let go and felt around a bit and pulled out the softest one instead. Might as well be optimistic and assume that he and William would be close enough to for his clothing’s tactile qualities to come into play.
With the shirt out of the way, the rest of the outfit was easy. The clear winner for the nicest texture against his skin (and William’s, hopefully) was a navy blue button-down which also happened to bring out the blue in his eyes. John quickly pulled out pants, socks, and the trousers that a random blonde at a pub had once told him made his arse look amazing. (She was clearly drunk and the comment earned John a glare from her date, but her opinion had been echoed in the double-takes of a fair assortment of women since then so John felt confident in believing her. It’s not like he was really the best judge of his own arse.) He ended up at the restaurant with twenty minutes to spare.
John had . . . okay, he’d put more than a little thought into the choice of venue. Had been daydreaming about his ideal “first date” with William ever since that amazing chat at Christmas, truthfully. Mikawa had the advantage of being within easy walking distance to his flat (convenient), was somewhere north of “mid-range” but not so fancy it would be awkward, and offered a bit of a tableside show while they cooked your food right there in front of you so there would be something to watch and/or talk about if conversation started to flag. The only real downside was the waiting situation - large communal tables meant you were only seated when your whole party got there. Which meant John was left cooling his heels in the little entry foyer. Literally cooling, whenever someone opened the door and the frigid evening air swirled in. There were benches, hard wooden things in a vaguely Japanesque style, but John alternated between leaning against the wall and idiotic pacing. The walls were all wood paneling, no windows, so he jumped expectantly every time someone came in.
It was a Saturday evening. The restaurant was busy. He jumped a lot. A handful of the customers were men on their own, but none gave him a second glance.
At two minutes to six, the door opened for the fourteenth time in eighteen minutes. John looked up, immediately assessing whether the newcomer could be William-
Small gold-rimmed glasses.
Slightly tanned skin (more than most Londoners in February, anyway).
Shortish auburn hair, with a hint of something darker at the roots.
And he’d recognize those cheekbones anywhere.
The door closed quietly behind Sherlock. The canned and somewhat scratchy recorded Japanese music drifted down from the speaker overhead. Through the thinner doors to the main restaurant lobby, John could hear the regular babbling of a fake waterfall. The air was thick with the smell of soy and garlic. The twin wall sconces on either side of the door lit the small entry foyer with a somewhat sickly yellow light. And John and Sherlock just started at each other.
“John.” Sherlock looked down, taking in John’s carefully-planned outfit, then returned his gaze to John’s face. “You look good.”
John just continued to stare.
“The navy brings out your eyes.”
What. The. Fuck.
Sherlock shuffled forward slightly, a hint of nervousness tainting his usually-perfect posture. “It’s - it’s good to see you again, John. I missed you.”
And he leaned in to give him a kiss.
John didn’t move consciously - one moment he was frozen in place as his dead flatmate’s lips descended toward his own, the next moment he was backed up against the opposite wall of the tiny room and cradling his suddenly sore knuckles. Sherlock’s eyes were wide with shock.
“Get out.” John’s voice was barely audible, but surely Sherlock would be able to deduce it.
“John.” Sherlock didn’t move, didn’t touch the place where his cheekbone would be quickly blossoming into a rainbow of colors. “You’re angry with me.”
“You were dead.”
Sherlock blinked at him with large, soulful eyes. “John. Please.”
“No.” John held up his hand to forestall any more arguing. “I can’t - I can’t do this, Sherlock.”
“I’m also William,” Sherlock murmured. “I know this wasn’t what you were expecting.”
John’s answering bark of laughter tasted bitter in his throat. “I - yes, you could say that. Yes. Now get out.”
“Fine.” Sherlock clearly wasn’t moving, so John shoved past him and shouldered open the door. “Enjoy your dinner, ‘William.’ Don’t contact me again.”
Sherlock didn’t follow. John walked home in the dark and sat on his bed for a long time, staring at nothing. He kept his laptop shut.