"I'm bored!" Sherlock sneered, as he kicked a stack of papers across the sitting room of 221B Baker St.
"Strange, I've never heard you say that before," John mumbled from behind a newspaper that he was having little success in reading. His persistent flatmate had been proclaiming his duress for about an hour, and John was doing his best to ignore the tantrum. Of course, this meant sitting in his chair and staring at black ink on grey paper without actually reading it, but Sherlock didn't need to know that.
"How can you just sit there?" Sherlock spat at him, as though John's stasis had something to do with their current case drought.
"Very easily, actually. I suggest you give it a try. A bit of leisurely reading would do you some good."
"You haven't read a word of that paper in ages."
"Oh, what a magnificently banal existence mediocre minds entertain…"
"Oi! How can I read it with you-"
"I need a case, John!" Sherlock bellowed, striding across the tattered rugs of their sitting room. He snatched the newspaper from John's fingers, and tossed it over his shoulder, before bracing his hands on the armrests of his chair. John's breath caught in his throat as Sherlock leaned in close.
"Well, what do you expect me to do about it; murder someone?" he choked out, trying his best to avoid the piercing blue eyes that were only inches away from his own.
"Don't be ridiculous. I couldn't imagine a homicide less challenging than one committed by you, the master of sentiment and just cause." John wasn't sure if he should be offended or flattered. He decided on a cocktail of the two, as was usually the case when it came to his ornery flatmate.
"Then what in the bloody hell do you want from me?"
"Entertainment, John! I need something to do, damnit. I can't just lay here in wait for a case…not tonight. It's…not a good night for me to have nothing to do."
"Is it ever a good night for that?" he asked acerbically. Yet, despite himself, John felt his resolve failing. He'd made the mistake of allowing himself to meet Sherlock's eyes. While the man was a depthless reservoir of unpredictable intentions, John knew him well enough to recognize the unspoken 'please' behind his gaze. He could also practically taste Sherlock's breath, which was more of a factor in his submission than he cared to admit.
"Fine, fine, I'll come up with something, just give me a little space to think, will you?"
Reluctantly, Sherlock pushed himself off of John's chair and stomped back across the room. He plopped down on the sofa and raked his fingers through his hair.
"Alright," John said, combing his thoughts for inspiration. "Cluedo is a no go, as we've established one time too many, and the telly only makes you belligerent, so that's out…"
"I'm well aware of the things I don't feel like doing, thank you very much. Why do I bother—"
"Fine! What…what about bowling?"
"Out of the question."
"We could go to the cinema?"
"I'd rather you committed that murder…"
"Or a museum?"
"By killing me. Seriously, just put me out of my misery."
"How about we have a bloody picnic, then?"
"It's dark out, John. I know your powers of deduction are considerably inferior to my own, but surely even you could—"
"Why don't you just keep insulting me for the rest of the night? You seem to be enjoying that almost as much as solving a case." John rubbed his face in his palms and stood from his chair, feeling a twinge of pain in his bad leg.
"You're on your own, Sherlock. I'm going to the pub," he announced, walking to his coat with an almost unperceivable limp in his step.
"John!" Sherlock exclaimed, jumping up from the sofa. "You're a genius!"
John dropped his coat on the floor and turned slowly to face Sherlock, who was bounding towards him.
"I'm…I'm a what?"
Sherlock took John by the shoulders.
"A genius!" He kissed John on the cheek and shook him. John's ears flushed pink.
"Um…you do know who you're talking to, right? Just a moment ago I was 'considerably inferior' to your massive intell-"
"Don't you see? We'll go to a pub together. It's the perfect thing to distract me."
John was flabbergasted.
"You, Sherlock Holmes, want to go to a pub…with me?"
"Of course, John. Do catch on, will you? Just think of it, John. Ohhh, it's perfect." Sherlock bent down, picked up the fallen coat, and held it open for him to slide into. Slowly, for he still hadn't fully absorbed what was happening, John pushed his arm into the coat sleeve. Sherlock guided his other arm, and helped him shrug it onto his shoulders. John thought for a quick moment of how much he liked when Sherlock helped him put his coat on, but he was allotted little time to savor the sentiment as Sherlock pushed past him to retrieve his own coat.
John mouthed soundlessly. "But…erm," was all he managed before Sherlock grabbed his hand and pulled him down the stairs and out the door.
"Sherlock, wait!" Sherlock just kept dragging him.
"Sherlock!" Still nothing.
"SHERLOCK!" John yanked on Sherlock's hand, pulling him, stumbling, into his chest.
"Oh, what is it, John?"
"You…you…" John stammered, attempting to compose himself, but forgetting what he was going to say. Sherlock had been far too close to him for one evening, particularly at this moment. John swallowed hard on the lump in his throat. "You don't even know where you're going. For once in this friendship, will you let me lead the bloody way?"
Sherlock released John's hand and straightened up, adjusting the lapels of his coat.
"You're going the wrong way," John continued, turning.
"No I'm not."
John sighed and let his hands flop to his sides.
"You don't even know what pub I go to."
"You go to The Last Drop on Grassmarket Avenue, a seven minute walk from here."
John turned back and stared at Sherlock, vaguely aware that his mouth was hanging open.
"How did you—"
"Do you really want to know, or do you want to just let me take you the expedient way?"
"So no go on me leading the way for the first time, then?" John asked with what he hoped were his best 'you've made me sad and you don't care' eyes.
"If you use that look on me too many times it will lose its effect. I suggest you reserve it for more appropriate circumstances."
John blinked. There was no getting away with anything with him. Sherlock turned on his heel and continued walking, leaving John to stumble after him.
"Wait! I don't do a 'look'!" But Sherlock was striding with those long legs of his down the sidewalk and it took all of John's breath to keep up. He silently cursed their height difference.
Sherlock guided them through meandering alleyways, across the lot behind the corner store, and down a side street which John had no idea was there. When they emerged, they were standing a few paces from The Last Drop pub. The familiar red wood paneling of the building, along with the ominous metal noose hanging above the door was an oddly comforting visual for John. He'd retreated to this pub for a pint and chips on more than one of Sherlock's "off" days. It was unusual to have the consulting detective come with him, but he wasn't exactly displeased.
"Ah, see?" Sherlock held out his phone to John. "Seven minutes exactly."
"You timed it?" Sherlock looked down at him as though there was nothing unusual in the world about it. "Forget it, let's just go inside."
As John pushed open the old, wooden door of the pub with Sherlock close behind him, the smell of ale, cooked potatoes, and aged plaster washed over him. He weaved between tables, all with bottles at their center that held dripping candlesticks, and made his way to his favorite spot: a small table, flush with the bay windows of the side of the pub.
"How's this?" he asked Sherlock as he took his coat off and draped it over the back of his chair. Sherlock nodded curtly and took his seat. He steepled his fingers and pressed them against his mouth, elbows on the table, and his eyes began darting around the room.
"What can I get you to drink?" John asked, trying to ignore Sherlock's apparent room scan. "The first round's on me, but don't get used to it."
"Nothing. I'm fine."
"But…but you have to have something. Why else would you go to a pub?" John was starting to feel skeptical about the evening's progression. Sherlock had to have some hidden agenda to compel him to go to pub with John, if drinking and relaxing weren't part of his plan, not that relaxing was ever a part of his plan.
"Fine, get me a gin and tonic." John blinked, not expecting him to concede so readily. Perhaps he'd been too quick to abandon hope. "I want Hendrick's, nothing else will do, with four ice cubes and bottled tonic, not the piss water they serve out of the fountain. And no lime. It's cucumber or nothing."
John left their table and approached the bar, running over Sherlock's instructions in his head. By the time he managed to order the elaborate gin and tonic, he decided to get the same for himself and make it easier on the bartender. As his drinks were being prepared, John risked a look back at Sherlock. He hadn't removed his coat yet, and was still looking about the pub at its dozen patrons, no doubt ascertaining their life stories from the lint on their sleeves. While John, as always, was impressed by Sherlock's ability to deduce information from those around him, he didn't want this obsession to rule their evening. He'd actually managed to get him, Sherlock Holmes, to go to his favorite pub with him, and he wasn't about to let the opportunity slip through his fingers.
The bartender placed the two gin and tonics on the bartop, pulling his focus away from Sherlock.
"Can I also have two tequila shots? Best tequila you have," he ordered without thinking.`
"Is Patron alright?"
"That'll be fine."
Sherlock was going to do a shot with his flatmate and there was nothing he could do about it. Of course, John reminded himself, there were plenty of things Sherlock could do about it, the least of which being throwing tequila in his face. .
"You want to start a tab?" asked the scruffy-looking bartender.
"Sure," John replied, optimistic.
"I'll bring the shots, a couple limes, and salt to your table for you in a minute, then.."
John nodded and picked up the gin and tonics, careful not to spill a drop as he went back to their table. When he placed Sherlock's drink in front of him and took his seat, he saw a look of approval flash on Sherlock's face before it quickly disappeared.
"I…uh…," John began. "I got us a present." Sherlock's eyes suddenly stopped flitting back and forth, and focused on John. He felt a shiver zip through him.
"Yup." As if on cue the bartender came to their table, a tray in his hand.
"Here you are," he said as he placed the two tequila shots on the dark, wooden table along with a plate of limes and a salt shaker. "Enjoy."
"This is your present," Sherlock asserted.
"Do…ehem…do you like it?" A silence fell between them that, to John, seemed to linger on into centuries.
"How did you discern that I like tequila?"
John exhaled, not bothering to conceal his relief. It wasn't as if Sherlock wouldn't notice it even if he tried.
"I didn't. I just…I just really think we should get smashed tonight." And there it was.
Sherlock raised his eyebrows but didn't speak.
"You've had a rough day, and I've had a rough day because you've had a rough day, so…let's just get pissed. We've never gone drinking together before. It should probably be fun…I think," John added.
Sherlock eyed John, leaning back in his chair.
"Well? What do you say?" John persisted, swallowing hard. He was beginning to wonder if this was going to go down as one of his more idiotic ideas.
Sherlock took each of his lapels in his hands and pulled the coat off his shoulders, letting it rest on the back of his chair.
"A drinking contest, then."
"Does everything have to be a competition with you?"
"Worried you can't hold up?"
"Not for a second." John picked up his lime and rubbed it on the space between his right thumb and forefinger. He waited for Sherlock to be done with the salt before shaking it onto the moist skin of his hand. Picking up the limes, they clutched their respective shotglasses.
"What shall we toast to?" Sherlock asked, looking vaguely impressed at John's tequila shot-taking skills.
"To our first night out."
"This isn't our first night out."
"Well, we're out together and it's not just for a case, and we're drinking with each other for the first time. So, to that then," John explained, holding up his shotglass. Sherlock clinked his own against John's and, together, they licked the salt from their hands, breathed deep into their lungs, poured the tequila down their throats, and bit the limes between their teeth. John felt the warmth of the liquor as it cascaded into his chest. It was oddly comforting, but he didn't want to enjoy it too much. Harry always made her way into his thoughts when he drank.
"Don't worry about your sister. You're nothing like her," Sherlock stated as thought it was an afterthought. His voice was slightly husky from the tequila.
"I know I'm not," John responded, perhaps affirming it to himself more than Sherlock. A brief silence fell between the two of them as they let the shots settle in their bellies.
"Care for another?"
"Oh God, yes," John answered. Sherlock sprang from his chair and hopped to the bar. He was back in a few seconds, clapping his hands together after he took his seat again.
"Bartender will be here in a few. Have you tried the gin and tonic yet? I assume you've never had one quite like it before."
"No, I haven't. I didn't know you could put cucumber in a g and t."
"You couldn't put in anything else."
John smiled, pinching the straw of his cocktail and bringing it to his lips.
"Always so certain of yourself, aren't you?" John dragged the liquid up his straw, letting the piney, cool concoction wash down his throat.
"About everything, yes. Though I must say, you perplex me at times."
John choked on the sip he'd taken, coughing and sputtering. Sherlock raised an eyebrow at him.
"You alright?" he asked in a disingenuous tone.
"Good cocktail," John managed, attempting to clear his throat.
"It is, when you aren't choking on it." Sherlock took a sip of his own gin and tonic. "I didn't know you were such a lightweight."
"I'm not! It just…you said…wrong pipe."
"Care to prove it?" Sherlock asked, eyes indicating to the bartender who was now approaching their table with his tray.
"Two more shots for you, gentlemen," the bartender said, placing the shotglasses and additional limes in front of them before heading back to the bar.
After they'd swiftly repeated their pre-shot-taking routine, they lifted their glasses once more.
"To getting a new, damn-interesting case before I make myself crazy," Sherlock stated.
"I can certainly toast to that, since you'll be taking me down with you."
After they'd swallowed their shots, and John had shaken the initial shiver of it from himself, they returned to their cocktails.
"Why didn't we ever do this before?" pondered John.
"I don't recall you ever asking."
"Well, of course not."
"'Of course?' Why, 'of course'?"
"You just…I just assumed you wouldn't want to."
"Let's try not to make assumptions in the future then, especially without sufficient data."
John sighed and ran a hand through his hair. He'd have formed a better argument for himself if he wasn't starting to feel a pleasant buzz behind his eyes. He watched Sherlock take an impressive swig of his gin and tonic.
"Why do I perplex you?" John asked bravely. Damn that tequila.
"Drink your drink," he replied, as if that settled it.
"And you drink yours."
Sherlock glared at him sardonically and pointed at his cup, which was almost empty while John's was about half way there. John puffed up his chest and took up his cocktail. While there was hardly a game or contest in which Sherlock didn't destroy him, he'd be damned if he let drinking be one of them. He'd certainly had more practice than Sherlock, not to mention the consulting detective's questionable eating habits. John downed his gin and tonic in two big gulps, before slamming his cup on the table.
"The game, Mr. Holmes, is on."