John couldn’t pinpoint when Sherlock had begun to trust him. The closest he could get was to say it was somewhere between the day he shot a man dead on his behalf and the day he walked in on him dancing in his dressing gown in the living room of 221B.
It isn’t instantly obvious that it’s “dancing”. It takes John pausing on the threshold with his lips pursed and brow creased, running through a list of possibles before he hits on “dancing”. Some kind of fit; a rogue bee in the flat? A very bizarre reaction to cocaine; particularly potent fumes from an experiment? Dancing only comes to him when he registers the rock ‘n’ roll music leaking from Sherlock’s laptop speakers.
Their eyes lock, Sherlock’s partly obscured by the bow of his head and his shaggy curls. There’s a split-second when John can tell Sherlock is gauging how much to let him see. He smiles inwardly when the man opts to continue a relatively well executed Elvis move as opposed to flopping dramatically into his armchair. Those ridiculously long legs come in handy for the Elvis impression, John thinks.
“It’s for a case.”
“Sure,” John agrees, “Infiltrating a dance group?”
“Precisely,” Sherlock’s attention returns fully to his previous occupation. John drags himself away long enough to take off his coat and drop the grocery shopping on the sofa next to the coffee table and a stack of books that had apparently impeded the detective’s progress.
There’s really not much to do except watch his friend. He’s an explosion, John knows now. At the start of their time as flatmates the doctor had attempted to politely ignore Sherlock. Next had come the rubber necking, the “going to make a cup of tea” while studying the man from the corner of his eye. Now he just openly watched him like an especially abstract installation at a modern art museum. Fully immersed in the scene, John gives a frown.
“Yes, it’s Rihanna. Rock ‘n’ Roll Rihanna,” Sherlock agrees, lethargically reading his mind. He frowns at John’s smile, “What?”
“Dunno. Something about you knowing who Rihanna is.”
“A teenager’s alibi once depended on her owning Good Girl Gon-“
“Yeah, alright,” John walks around the gyrating, practically vibrating detective, not unlike a planet circling some volatile sun, “Your shoulders are too tense.”
The comment goes right to Sherlock’s ego, so Sherlock’s messy footwork and scowl tell the doctor.
“And what would you know about it?”
“I ballroom danced as a kid,” John shrugs. Sherlock looks about to snap at him for being idiot so he adds, “Really. Great way to meet girls. C’mere.”
And somehow, they’re dancing. To Lady Gaga, by the sound of things. John talks Sherlock through a spin (and neglects to mention that the detective is dancing the woman’s part).
The dancing is punctuated with the briefest of conversation. Navigating the chairs, desks and fireplaces of 221B make anything more a bad idea.
“Paid the TV license.”
A pile of Swedish krona tumble from the mantelpiece and into the grate, the coal skuttle, the Persian slipper. They shrug it off.
“S’that your phone?”
A pause to verify.
“Lestrade. Break in at the Natural History Museum. Tomorrow, 10 o’clock.”
“I have surgery hours.”
“So? Swap with someone.”
A momentary stumble when the tempo changes between tracks.
“That’s my foot.”
“Then don’t stand on it Sherlock.”
Mostly, though, John is too busy rocking with laughter to talk. Sherlock is threatening to smile in that way that’s so ridiculously pure that the man can only bring himself to direct the expression over John’s shoulder, not ready to meet the doctor’s eye just yet. They’ve gone back around to the Rihanna cover by the time Mrs Hudson pokes her head around the door.
“Boys, it sounds like you’ve got a herd of elephants in here.”
They share an “it’s your fault” stare and snort before pulling apart. Sherlock shuffles off in his “I’m between cases” dressing-gowned walk to give Mrs Hudson a one armed hug and kiss on the cheek.
“Apologies, Mrs Hudson. Doctor Watson insisted.”
“Well, the two of you don’t go out enough, you know, murder inquiries aside,” Mrs Hudson explains sagaciously, “That’s how you keep the spark in a relationship. There’s a place that does jive dancing just down the road-“
“Yeah, thanks Mrs Hudson,” John agrees and, after rubbing a speck of dust from the edge of the overturned coffee table and giving John a warning about any “things for the fridge” in the Tesco bags, their landlady sees fit to retreat.
“Thanks for helping with the “not gay” thing there,” John adds to Sherlock as the door of 221A clicks shut below. The detective nonchalantly begins to rifle through the carrier bags now that Mrs Hudson has brought them to his attention.
“Again,” John agrees.
“No sweet potatoes.”
No, of course there’s no bloody sweet potatoes, the doctor thinks, When have we ever had sweet potato? When do we even have potato that’s not chips, for that matter?
“No,” John’s mouth summarises.
“Hm,” Sherlock continues perusing the bag’s contents for what it’s worth, “Need some. And marshmallows.”
“Filling. Like a sweet jacket potato,” Sherlock’s steepled hands fan open in a silent “obviously”.
John smirks, feet already tracing a path to the coat rack.
“And what are the odds of your focusing on anything else until you know there’s sweet jacket potato potential in the flat?”
Sherlock pulls a very solemn frown, “Troubling low, doctor. It’s-“
“For a case. Grab your coat. You’re coming,” John says with an arm already through one jacket sleeve, “I need relationship advice anyway.”
There’s a doubtful look in Sherlock’s eyes as he knots his scarf.
“Yeah. I’ve got a date with this nurse at work. She’s mad about dogs and all I know is they’re smelly when wet.”
“I’m not Wikipedia,” Sherlock mutters as they fall into step on the pavement. John knows Sherlock’s clocked his own “The Face”. It means “I’m very dubious about that”.
The pair buy sweet potatoes to the dulcet tones of Sherlock Holmes explaining the temperament of Pugs (John doesn’t bother to ask how Sherlock knew that was Katie’s favourite breed). John – Sherlock is either oblivious or beyond caring – notices that a young couple at the self-service till next to their own are giving the towering brunet an openly puzzled stare between discussing an imminent trip to the cinema.
John Watson isn’t entirely sure when it happened. Somewhere between being made to feel stripped bare in the lab at Bart’s as his life story was relayed to him by a stranger and rock ‘n’ roll dancing on a wet Wednesday afternoon with a consulting detective. Somewhere between those two points, John knows, he’s gone from envying the prospect of a nice night out watching a blockbuster to this. Whatever this is. John can only smile, delighted, as he meets the strangers’ eyes for the briefest of moments. They grace him with an openly puzzled stare too. “Good”, John thinks as he leaves Tesco with his best friend.