There’s a very specific moment where John realizes he’s done keeping his brand new relationship with Sherlock under wraps. It comes when he’s doing the shopping, having dragged an unenthusiastic Sherlock along.
Sherlock is an odd duck in the supermarket, an alien species staring at cereal boxes like he’s expecting them to jump off the shelves and perform a jaunty little tap-dance routine right down the breakfast aisle. That alone is reason enough for John to occasionally take him along – the memories alone keep him entertained for days after. Sherlock complains about this loudly and often, of course, but usually winds up finding a means to keep himself busy after all and chucks things they don’t actually need into their trolley, happily declaring he might use them for some ill-destined experiment he just came up with off the bat.
Today his fancy appears to be mayonnaise, and six different tubes mysteriously find themselves amongst the bottles of milk and the loaf of bread John had put into their trolley. He quietly adds a carton of eggs, so that when Sherlock gets bored with whatever odd idea he’d concocted for the stuff John might be able to get some use out of the leftovers and make an egg salad or some such. Sherlock twirls through the aisles, reading the ingredients on cans and bottles, occasionally alarming fellow shoppers by saying things like “Such a perfect concentration of polysaccharides in this apple sauce!”.
But then the joke this time is entirely on John when he runs into an ex-girlfriend of his at the produce section. Tessie is her name, a long-legged flight attendant John went out with for a couple weeks about a year ago. Sherlock hovers by the tomatoes but doesn’t intervene, staring daggers into the poor girl’s back. Tessie smiles and twirls her hair and asks John how he’s doing with that tone of voice that suggests there’s a certain option open for him there, and something in John’s brain shorts out.
“I’m in a gay relationship with my flatmate,” he blurts and the moment becomes so immediately intense that even the lettuce looks awkward.
“Oh. That’s nice,” she says and she bares her teeth in something that’s probably meant to be a smile but just makes her look kind of sick. John feels kind of sick too, more so when he notices Sherlock is about as red as the tomatoes he’s hunched over trying not to laugh. Tessie shoots him a look and disappears down the dairy isle with a swish of her skirt and Sherlock is suddenly very interested in the broccoli.
“Oh God,” John sighs, staring down a courgette. It doesn’t offer any kind of consolation, but then John never really liked courgette, anyway.
“Smooth, John. Very smooth.”
“I just came out at Tesco.”
“Yes. Yes you did.”
From the corner of his eye he catches the smirk Sherlock is giving him and they both crumple into an uncontrollable fit of giggles that doesn’t really end until after they’ve paid for their groceries and are walking home, the sun gleefully warming the tops of their heads.
“I do suppose this means I’m ready to start telling people,” John muses while Sherlock fishes the keys to their flat out his pocket.
“Start telling people what?”
“About us. That we’re a couple now.”
“Ah. All right.”
They stumble into the hallway and up the stairs, John with his arms full of groceries and Sherlock with his hands infuriatingly in his pockets.
“Would you be okay with that, though?”
“With what?” Too distracted already, probably summing up the ingredients of mayonnaise in his head.
“Oh keep up, would you. With me telling people that we’re a couple.”
“Ah , yes. No, I don’t care. The people who matter to me already know and I don’t give a whit as to what everybody else thinks.”
There’s a truth to that, John supposes, even if it insinuates something about how Sherlock relates to his actual family that’s fairly depressing. Still, Mrs. Hudson already knows, and apparently so does Mycroft. They didn’t even have to specifically tell him, he was able to figure it out within a few days by merely the looks on their faces or the state of their clothing or whatever it was that had given them away.
“So John, is this the part where I tell you that if you break his heart I’ll break your legs?” he’d asked pleasantly.
“Can’t we just leave that implied and skip the speech?” John suggested, and Mycroft had offered him a polite if bloodcurdling smile and left the flat.
“Your brother is terrifying,” John had stated, and Sherlock merely shrugged and started tuning his violin.
Still, that leaves the entire thing up to John. He sleeps on it, for three nights, until he wakes up one delightful Tuesday morning and finds Sherlock fast asleep tucked under his arm, hair a mess, lips slightly parted, and the rush of happiness this provides is so grand it knocks whatever doubt still lingered right out his skull. He kisses a reluctant Sherlock awake and thinks it might be nice to start wearing this bliss around his neck for all to see.
He knows he should probably start with Harry, he does, but it’s difficult so he distracts himself from the inevitability of that by dropping by Barts to see Mike Stamford. He figures he should tell Mike personally- he’s the one who introduced him to Sherlock, after all. He ought to bring him mountains of riches for that one, a great big THANK YOU spelled out in flowers, written in the London sky with one of them little aeroplanes, or get him a nice tie at the very least, but John really does drop by on a whim and figures bringing him a cappuccino would do just as well.
“You’re a godsend, they still got that same drab here in the canteen they always used to have,” Mike says, gladly accepting the coffee over a stack of papers he’s grading.
“I figured as much, yeah,” John grins at him.
Mike has the tiniest office imaginable, absolutely crammed with books, folders, the walls crowded with diplomas and family photos. They talk of mostly mundane things for a bit. John learns that Stamford’s daughter fractured her clavicle at a football match, while he casually sifts through the papers and marvels at how certain things about studying medicine honestly don’t change as much as he’d expected them to have.
“So how’s life with Sherlock then?” Stamford asks and John figures he might just as well.
“Good. Really good, actually. I’m sleeping with him?”
Stamford stares at him for a long, still moment, half empty paper cup of coffee paused about an inch from his mouth, then he offers him this half grin paired with the most amused sort of shrug John has ever seen. “Oh. All right, then. Congratulations. Good on you. I think.”
“Yeah, I’m not always sure of that one either. Might not be the brightest decision I’ve made, hooking up with Sherlock Holmes. I’m never bored, though. Yesterday he somehow exploded three tubes of mayonnaise all over our kitchen and I spent almost an hour trying to wash it out of his hair. That’s love for you, I suppose.”
Mike looks at him and John looks back and they burst into laughter. For what feels like the millionth time, John feels lucky to be able to call Mike his friend.
“We’ve had two of these deaths so far, Sherlock, I thought you’d be more interested.”
It’s not an unfamiliar tune, that one, Lestrade trying quite desperately to get Sherlock to help him on a case. Sherlock isn’t convinced just yet. He’s called it a six, at best, and not even worth changing into proper clothing for just yet. Lestrade is dimly irritated – he’s got two deaths on his plate, after all. A little cooperation from the world’s only consulting detective would be much appreciated.
“The deaths aren’t even proven to be linked yet,” Sherlock mutters, sinking further into his chair.
“That’s what I need you to do for me. Prove it. I’ve a hunch, all right.”
Sherlock scoffs at Lestrade’s hunch with a dismissive flick of his hand.
John stays out of the discussion, sitting on the sofa tying his shoelaces and getting himself ready for an unexpected shift at the surgery. Sarah had called earlier, one of the doctors had called in sick, would he mind picking up a couple hours? John never minds a bit of extra pay, and as long as Sherlock wasn’t accepting the case he might just as well.
“if you change your mind, call me. For God’s sake. If these deaths are linked, we might be in for a disaster,” Lestrade says darkly. He seems to be noting John is leaving the flat, and doesn’t quite fancy the idea of being left alone there with Sherlock. John can’t blame him, to be honest.
"Okay, you two stop bickering, I'm off." He grabs his coat, stuffs his wallet into his pocket and walks around Sherlock’s chair. "Behave yourself. I won’t be home late." He places a hand on Sherlock's shoulder and leans forward to place a warm kiss on responsive lips. Only when he straightens back up does he realise he just did that in front of Lestrade, who is now looking at him like he's just magicked a monkey whistling God Save The Queen out his inside pocket.
"Er. Bye," John offers awkwardly, patting Sherlock's shoulder and fleeing the flat. He pretends not to hear Sherlock’s overly amused snort of laughter following him down the stairs.
Lestrade follows him out, catching up with him downstairs. "What the hell did I just witness?" he asks. He sounds amused - that's a good sign, John supposes.
"Me kissing my boyfriend goodbye," John admits.
"Oh. Ah. I see."
They walk in silence and John can almost hear Lestrade thinking, that befuddled hamster in its rusty wheel picking up pace.
“So how long have you...? Cause I never noticed anything, so I’m either really daft or you’re just very good at making me believe that ‘not a couple’ shtick of yours was true.”
Both, John thinks, but it’d be rude to voice that. Sherlock would, really, but he supposes at least one them should be sticking to common social decorum. “It’s quite recent,” he says “Just a couple months. It just sort of happened, to be honest, but it’s all quite good so we’re going with it.”
“Does Mycroft know about this?”
“Oh, yes. Does that matter?”
“No, not really,” Lestrade says distractedly, thrusting his hands into the pockets of his coat.
“We’ve been keeping it under wraps,” John adds, somewhat carefully.
“Yeah, all right. If you really want to keep this under wraps you may want to watch the public displays of affection though.”
“Our flat is hardly public”
“Fair enough. But at least check if there’s an audience first, then. I’m not sure how to categorise this rather unexpected experience just yet.”
John chuckles and pats Lestrade on the shoulder. Lestrade offers him a grin before hailing a taxi.
After they started having sex, Sherlock very quickly developed the habit of sleeping naked. John is just absolutely a-okay with this. In the mornings, Sherlock is a long thin stretch of lazy nudity across the bed and John is entirely too old to be this randy. It’s become something of a Pavlovian response, where the mere sight of the graceful arch of Sherlock’s lower back, the swell of buttocks half concealed by a stupidly artistic drape of white sheets, sends all the blood from John’s brain plummeting right down into his cock.
“Fuck,” John breathes and Sherlock grins leisurely.
“Fine by me.”
“Shut up. I’m late for work.”
“No you’re not. Not yet, at least. Want to be?”
“No. Shut up, shut up.”
He dresses quickly and flees the flat, narrowly avoiding being confronted with Sherlock having a spot of naked breakfast. And then, as it turns out, he might just as well have stayed in and enjoyed the view, as he gets in a mere two hours at the surgery before his mobile beeps once, twice, and he’s cashing in on more favours from Sarah than he’s ever paid her back to rush off to the Yard.
It wasn’t even Sherlock who had texted him. It had been Lestrade sending him the unfairly exasperated message to ‘please stop your boyfriend from terrorising my Forensic unit’ and it takes him a mere four texts back and forth with said public menace of a boyfriend to figure out that there had been a shocking three more poison victims and Sherlock had finally attached himself to the case with frenzied enthusiasm.
The victims were all poisoned with arsenic, but have absolutely nothing in common at all – even Sherlock fails to find the common denominator, there. Extremely worrying, obviously, and John thinks he might never be able to just buy a sandwich on the street ever again, but Sherlock is convinced there would be a link, a certain food item, something he could use to deduce his way to the killer. It sets way for a very haphazard, cross-London bout of foraging John figures might wind up with Sherlock getting banned from shops for the rest of his life (and then what would John do for fun?).
Molly isn't even fazed when Sherlock waltzes into her laboratory with three bags full of assorted food items. John tries not to think about that too much. Sherlock starts cutting up things excitedly, shoving slices of apple and bits of crisp under a microscope. Molly helps him without even so much as asking for an explanation, adding different sorts of chemicals to food samples and observing the reactions closely. John putters around, handing them stuff and feeling vaguely useless.
Sherlock tosses aside half an apple. John picks it up, sniffs it. "Not poisoned, stepmother?"
"Never mind. Is it safe to eat this?"
Sherlock frowns at him, his focus on results and numbers and enzymes the names of which John can barely pronounce, and struggles to switch to that every day concern of being a bit peckish and surrounded by food of questionable origin. "Oh, right. Yes, yes. Just an apple."
John grins and bites into it. Sherlock's eyes focus on his mouth for a stretching moment, before he looks away, something of a smile to his eyes. John grins and turns, gently bumping his shoulder into Sherlock's back before sauntering over to Molly's table. He sits down, watching her work, chewing his apple.
"Is that apple safe to eat?" she asks, looking up from her Petri dish.
"Oh, yes. Sherlock checked it."
"Something's changed between the two of you," she says out of nowhere, a question in her eyes she doesn't dare voice. She reads people so well, John thinks. Remarkable, for a girl who spends most her time around the dead to be so perceptive of the living.
"Yes," he answers simply. No sense in dancing around the issue. Molly’s a clever girl, she can connect those awkward little dots.
"Oh." She keeps her eyes on him and he can see her heart breaking, falling apart into jagged pieces that snag and pull on her insides, and it makes him feel inconceivably horrible. "So you're. You are. I see," she continues, and a smile forces its way onto her face. "Con- congratulations. I mean. That's nice." She means it and she doesn't mean it all at once and John is at a loss for a moment. He wants to hug her, sort of, tell her it'll all be okay and there's plenty other fish in the sea, but at the same time there's this intense need to let her know that, hey, I get that this wildly unusual tropical fish is all kinds of incredible, but he's mine. He’s never really experienced that level of possessiveness before. It’s positively enlightening.
"Thanks," he says anyway, forcing a smile to match hers. They stand fake-smiling at each other for a few seconds while Sherlock cusses at the microscope in the far corner and waves a pipette like a magic wand, as if to make his desired result appear by sheer force of will.
"How long?" Molly asks, trying to sound perfectly conversational and friendly and nice, and he almost considers telling her she doesn't always have to pretend to be just fine with everything.
"Not long. Month or two."
"Oh." Her face falters and she looks away for a just a moment, before taking a deep breath and looking back at him. "I feel so stupid," she says, so softly she's almost whispering. "I'm sorry, I'm - I don't mean - Well."
"I get it," he answers and finds it within him to reach out and pat her shoulder. The fake smile returns and she fidgets and steps away, eyes flitting at Sherlock for a moment.
"Excuse me," she says flatly and she's gone, out the door. He watches her rush down the hallway and disappear around a corner and he can only imagine, crying in a bathroom stall perhaps? He's not sure how to handle this situation at all and his heart aches for her, just a bit, this kind girl with the horrible luck. He can only hope this isn't going to affect her more deeply than a pint of ice-cream and a Glee marathon can fix.
Sherlock remains blissfully unaware, turning the knobs on the microscope and looking frustrated. John puts an arm around the small of his back and rests his head against his shoulder. Sherlock doesn't even respond, but that's all right. John hadn't expected him to.
"This doesn't make sense," Sherlock mutters.
"Not getting the result you'd expected?"
Sherlock looks up and the empty lab hits him only just then. "Where's Molly? I need her to run some more tests for me."
"She needed a moment," John says carefully.
"She found out about us."
"You told her?"
"No, she figured it out. You're not the only person on the planet good at observing others."
"Oh. Why did she leave?"
"Because she needed a moment. Just leave it be." You won't understand it, anyway, he thinks. Sherlock frowns at the empty space and John leans up to press a kiss to the corner of his mouth, just for a moment, needing that bit of reassurance more than Sherlock does. He turns back to his microscope and his focus disappears entirely into whatever it is he’s dissected under the glass and John leans against him a moment longer, solid living warmth, before he lets go and finds himself a spot to sit and wait dutifully until Sherlock is done.
The case is solved, as it usually is, by Sherlock having some odd stroke of genius and John resolving never to buy another pudding cup for the rest of his life. Things carry on, again as they usually do, and John tries not to think too much about how catching a serial poisoner is run of the mill for the two of them.
It’s not two days after said poisoner is found dead in his prison cell that someone else learns of Sherlock and John’s relationship. Sherlock had told John earlier, after John’s little moment of unexpected honesty at Tesco, that all the people who mattered to him already knew about them.
This was a lie.
Obviously not one he could confess to John, but eventually it’s a simple text message leading into a somewhat less simple conversation where Sherlock tells the only person he could imagine he might want to tell. He finds a strange satisfaction in the whole thing and understands, then, why this is so important to John. One’s happiness, he finds, is made for showing off, like feathers on a peacock, intended to stick up and shine.
Guatemala is beautiful this time of year. You should join me. - I
I don't think John will appreciate it very much if I go traipsing across Central America on a whim. - S
Dr. Watson is really quite protective of you and where you traipse, isn't he? - I
Well, I am his, he's quite right to be protective. - S
Do my eyes deceive me, or did you just refer to yourself as his? - I
I did. - S
He finally gave in? Congratulations, I'm oddly proud of you two. - I
I don't think 'gave in' is necessarily the proper description for the course of events. But yes. - S
I assume this means I can no longer refer to you as the virgin? - I
You could, but it would be incorrect. - S
The conversation continues for some time, spiralling into more explicit territory fairly quickly. Sherlock comes away from it with some fabulous new ideas for things he could do to John, and never tells John where he got them from.
John is not about to complain.
Every few months or so John meets up with his old Blackheath rugby mates. He doesn’t play any more, not since before Afghanistan, now that he’s got his shoulder and his leg and his infuriating flatmate to run about after, but seeing the guys is a pleasant reminder of being younger and greatly enjoying nearly getting his teeth kicked in on a muddy field on a regular basis.
They’re all fast approaching forty now, most of them married, some with kids, respectable family men with baby seats in their cars. Still, their nights out are as brawny as you’d expect, shoulder-slapping beer-chugging madness, and it’s a refreshing speck of normality in John’s otherwise everything-but life.
It does present him with something of a hefty choice to make, though. Does he tell these blokes about Sherlock, or not? He downs a pint and lets the thought sit for a moment in the musky atmosphere of the pub. Their loud discussions quickly centres on their lives – Kev had a baby boy just last month, a picture of whom goes from hand to hand as even the biggest forward in their group coos at the little face, and good old Stephen is planning to marry his Joyce in the summer which leads to much mockery involving a ball and chain and the occasional imitation of a whip cracking. It’s a heavy bastion of heterosexuality and, of course, they soon settle on badgering the only remaining single man in their group – John Hamish Watson, thank you very much.
“So are you finally thinking settling too then, Johnny?” Kev says, hanging an arm off John’s shoulder.
“He better not, we gotta have one amongst us left we can be jealous of, hey!” Amir says, happily married father of three.
“Yeah, and John just never has a shortage of female attention, does he?” Stephen points out, and John grins at him.
“Astonishing how you always manage that, for such a little twerp of a man.” Eliot jostles John’s shoulder and John elbows him in his considerable gut.
“It’s called sex appeal, mate. Sex appeal,” he says.
“But come on, give us a little something. Seeing somebody as of late?” Kev presses.
All right. That’s his cue, John decides. He takes a long swig of his lager and nods with his mouth full.
“Oh yeah, that’s our Johnny! Tell us about it, what’s her name then?”
His heart pounds between his ears, drowning out the drone of the pub around him. “Sherlock,” he spits out uncomfortably.
“Sherlock? What the hell sort of name is that for a girl?”
“It’s not a girl.”
There’s a beat, a moment of stunned silence, and Kev’s arm slips off his shoulder. It leaves a tangible emptiness, like a chilled gust of wind lingering in the small space Kev had just occupied.
“What the hell sort of name is that for a bloke?” Eliot says, and a vaguely manic giggle escapes John.
"Hold up, you've gone gay?" Kev interjects, and something about his tone raises warning signs John’d rather not have pop up around his long-time friend.
"No, not really,” he says.
"I don't. No, I don't think so."
"But you're seeing a man."
Kev is having trouble following this and John can see him trying to connect things in a way he might understand and failing. He supposes it would be easier for him to just be able to stamp that label on him, ‘homosexual’, a nice clear category, but John can’t bring himself to dumb his feelings for Sherlock down that way.
"Yes,” John answers. “I’m seeing a man, yeah. In love with a man, even. I know it’s weird. It's. Well. It's sort of equal parts incredibly complicated and incredibly simple. It makes no sense and all sense at once. I know how that sounds, it’s just – “
“People don’t just turn gay,” Kev interrupts him. Eliot fidgets uncomfortably, folding his coal shovel hands around his pint. Amir stands by and gapes at John like he’s grown a second head. “Sherlock’s the name of your flatmate, isn’t it? How long you been shagging him for, then?” Kev continues and there’s a hint of accusation in his voice, the suggestion that John’s confession somehow personally affronted him, which ignites a little pilot light of anger between John’s eyes.
“None of your business how long I’ve been shagging him,” he says defensively. “Sherlock makes me happier than I can ever remember being. If it’s a problem for you that he’s a bloke, you can just piss off.”
“Come on guys, let’s keep it civil…” Steven tries, raising his hands to try and calm them, but John brushes him aside.
“No, I don’t appreciate his tone. Do you have a problem with this? Me having a boyfriend?” The b-word seems to shake them, a far more concrete image than the admittedly vague ‘seeing a man’.
“Yeah, maybe I do,” Kev huffs. “That’s not a crime, is it. I’m not bashing your head in. I just take issue with one of my mates suddenly telling me he’s a poof like it’s no big deal at all.”
“My sister’s gay, you’ve known that for years, that a problem for you too?” Kev just called him a poof. John figured that would have happened sooner or later, but it rings in his ears and sends a small shock through his system not unlike chewing on tinfoil.
“I don’t give a fuck about your sister. I give a fuck about you throwing this out there all of a sudden. We all used to shower together, man.”
Something in John’s brain finally short-circuits at this, a white flash of something he’d really hoped to be too old for by now, and he has to hold himself back to not actually physically attack Kev. He’s bigger than John, but John knows he could take him, if he has to.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?!” John shouts. Amir backs away, stepping out the circle. “You worried I’m secretly lusting after you? That it? Well allow me to burst that bubble for you, I wouldn’t touch your lardy arse with a ten foot pole. Yeah, I fell in love with a bloke. A beautiful, tall bloke who outsmarts all of us put together and who is infinitely better than you in any way you can imagine. So don’t you worry your ignorant little head about how I might turn into some kind of gay predator out to shag every single one of you cause trust me, I got something so much better to go home to.”
“Are you accusing me of something here?!” Kev retorts angrily, straightening himself.
“Yeah, maybe I fucking am. Look at you, everything’s fine until you learn I fell for someone with a dick. If you’ve got something to say to me, Kevin, you should just come out and do so.” He looks him right in the eye but Kev remains quiet, glaring back down at him. “Anybody else got something to say?” John continues, giving all of them that look of pure anger only a short person could muster, this hint of raw rage barely wrapped into a too-small package. Amir avoids his eyes, and Eliot just looks ridiculously helpless for such a mountain of his man.
“I think what Kev is trying to say…” Stephen begins carefully after a moment of deeply uncomfortable silence, but John cuts him off.
“You’re taking his side? Seriously? Just like that? I’d never have expected this from you guys, never,” he snaps. “I’m just trying to be honest, okay. I’m just telling you what’s going on in my life, and you give me this bullshit?” They remain quiet, either staring at him or down into their drinks, and John’s had just about enough.
“You know something? I don’t need this,” he spits, putting his empty glass down on the bar with a decisive thunk. He knows that if he doesn’t leave now he will, in fact, get entirely too worked up and will end up giving one of them, probably Kev, a bloody nose. He grabs his coat and swings it over his shoulder and strides off, not bothering to give them as much as a last look. He pounds down the pavement, struggling into his coat as he goes, so pissed off he barely feels the light drizzle stinging on his face. He didn’t know what he was expecting. It could have been worse, but it could have been better, and he loses himself trying to work out just what the hell exactly happened there.
It doesn’t occur to him to hail a cab or get onto the Tube until he’s already stomped halfway home, dodging other pub-goers and a far too obnoxiously loud gaggle of German tourists. He figures he might as well keep on walking then, London growing darker and decidedly wetter around him. By the time he’s pushing open the front door to 221B the rain is sliding in lazy droplets down into his collar.
The smell punches him in the face when he’s halfway up the stairs.
It somehow manages to be both organic and chemical at the same time, with a strong undercurrent of burnt flesh. He rushes up the stairs and into the kitchen where a mostly unidentifiable, half-charred mass of something sits atop their kitchen table. Sherlock at least had the soundness of mind to put a plastic sheet over the table first, but their entire flat smells like a Transformer engaged into a death match with a rhinoceros and both crumpled into a charred, defeated mess on the tabletop.
“What the bloody hell happened here??” he yells.
“Experiment.” Sherlock is sitting behind John’s laptop, typing away.
“What... what?! What the hell is this?!” he reaches a finger to poke at the weirdly jiggly mess, but Sherlock halts him by sharply crying out.
“Don’t touch that without gloves on!”
“What?! I can’t even leave you alone for five minutes, can I?!” John all but shrieks.
Sherlock looks up and frowns at him. “You were only gone for five minutes?”
Of course. Of course Sherlock barely even noticed he’d been gone for a couple hours, of course it wouldn’t immediately register he was home earlier than he ought to be.
“What did you do? What is that mess??”
“Effects of heat and a certain mix of chemicals on animal tissue, John. Relevant to a case.”
“Well, are you going to clean it up?!”
“It’s not done yet.”
This knocks down the last remaining pillar of John’s patience and he grabs the first available item near him – a book he left on a side table himself, earlier in the afternoon – and hurls it across the living room. It bounces off the wall and lands sadly on the rug. Sherlock pushes back from the desk and looks at him with wide, startled eyes.
“You always do this!” John yells. “You mess up everything and take no responsibility! You don’t notice what it does to people’s lives at all! Our flat smells like a robot zoo, do you even realise that, do you even realise I have to live in this?!” Yeah, John kind of blurred several issues together, there. He is painfully aware of the fact, like a bright yellow light blinking in his peripheral vision, but covers it with vaguely misdirected anger.
“I’ll clean it up?” Sherlock offers, but it’s not enough.
“That’s not the point, Sherlock! Think before you do something, think! Think of me, for a change.”
Sherlock looks offended by that, almost, and John catches up with himself and feels unreasonable and sort of hates everything for a bleak, empty moment.
“Screw this, screw everything, I’m going to bed. Leave me alone,” he grumbles. He turns on his heels, pointedly ignoring the mess in the kitchen, and stomps into the bedroom. He throws his clothes haphazardly across the room, almost rips the t-shirt he sleeps in by yanking it over his head so violently it protests at the seams and burrows angrily into Sherlock’s bed.
It occurs to him at this point that this whole ‘storming off to bed in a huff’ might have been more effective if he’d gotten into his own bed, instead. His room upstairs is still as it always was, a thin film of dust covering his unused sheets. The idea of going up there to sleep now instead makes his stomach clench painfully so he stays where he is, rolled up defiantly on his side.
Sherlock comes into the room maybe half an hour later and climbs into bed in the dark. It’s so painfully quiet between them John thinks he can almost hear him holding his breath and John clenches his fists under the sheets.
“I’ve angered you,” Sherlock says into the still darkness, every word carefully measured.
“You noticed that, good on you,” John mutters.
“I cleaned up. The smell will probably last for a day or two, though. I’m sorry.”
John turns to his back and glares at the ceiling. “No, you’re not. Don’t apologise when you don’t mean it.”
Sherlock is quiet again for some time and John squeezes his eyes shut and tries to will himself to sleep. It doesn’t work, anger and a deep sense of helplessness circling around each other inside his skull like a dog chasing its tail. To the side of this a twinge of guilt requests his attention for going off at Sherlock like he had, but he chooses to ignore that one. He’s not sure he’s got the emotional range to be able to deal with all of that at once and not spontaneously combust.
“Tell me what I did wrong,” Sherlock asks. It should come out more like a command but doesn’t quite, subtly held back by the considerable risk of possibly angering John further.
“Oh, Christ,” John mutters. “You turned our kitchen into a hazardous waste disposal, for one. Look. It’s not. It’s not just you.” He sighs and rubs his eyes with his thumbs. “I told some of my old rugby mates about us. The response was… less than favourable.”
“Oh.” Sherlock lets this sink in. “You took that out on me.”
“Yes, yes I did. Because I’m a dick, apparently. But a justified one, I think, considering the kitchen.”
“Again, no you’re not. You always make messes and never apologise.”
“Not about the kitchen. About your friends.”
“Oh, right. Well. Me too, actually.”
“Did they call you names?”
“Oh no, no no. Nothing so… immediately homophobic, I guess. They just wouldn’t really accept it. Accept you. I yelled at them.”
Sherlock makes a move towards him but stops, pulling back. The hesitation rolls off him like waves, and John is happy he can’t see the puppy eyes he knows Sherlock is making at him in the dark and sighs. “Oh just come here, you tit,” he mumbles, and Sherlock is all around him almost immediately, long slender arms reigning him in and cradling him against his chest like a child. He’s wearing his pyjamas, which tells John he felt too uncomfortable about the situation to sleep in the nude as he usually does. Sherlock isn’t the only one who can deduce such things about people, after all.
“I suppose it’s all right,” John muses, leaning his forehead into the soft cotton of Sherlock’s shirt. “At least now I know who my friends really are.”
“No, it’s not all right,” Sherlock says and John sees the truth in that, too. Sherlock breathes into his hair and as much as John hates to admit it the mere warm presence of him settles the knot of heated emotion swirling in John’s ribcage. He twirls his finger into the hem of Sherlock’s shirt and listens to his heartbeat and settles into a brittle kind of calm in the safe circle of Sherlock’s arms.
The reality of Sherlock’s heartbeat, that steady, dull thump, still takes him by surprise sometimes. Sherlock is so far beyond the norm, so many steps outside that circle of what is common, it’s all too easy to look at him as more than human (or less than, depending on who you’re talking to). That he is just absolutely like everybody else after all, that his heart beats and his stomach sometimes makes funny noises and his toenails need clipping, that’s something that jumps out at John every now and then. It always comes with the realisation that he’s probably the first person Sherlock has allowed to come close enough to see that side of him, too. The side that talks in his sleep and bruises like a peach under the applied force of John’s eager lips and teeth to his pale skin.
“This was our first fight as a couple,” Sherlock points out. His voice is a deep rumble in his chest and it feels more like home than anything else John can think of.
“Mmm. Probably won’t be the last,” John says. Sherlock chuckles – another deep rumble and John wants to curl into it and never leave.
“I love you,” Sherlock offers.
“I love you too.”
John smiles and sighs and worries a bit of fabric from Sherlock’s t-shirt between his teeth. He feels better.
John receives a text from Eliot, of all people, early the next morning.
Sorry about last night man. Didnt mean to hurt ur feelings – Eliot.
Yeah I know. That was pretty shitty, though. – J
U know how Kev gets, big bag of hot air. I dont agree with the shit he said tho – Eliot
I know how Kev gets. Not going to bother with him any more, sorry. Don’t need that in my life. – J
We still mates right? I dont care what u do in bed with dudes – Eliot
We still mates, Eliot. – J
Thank you. – J
No prob Johnny. Say hi to ur man from me. – Eliot
John does. Sherlock gets delightfully confused.
And then, three weeks and four days after his decision to be open about his new-found sexuality, which he’s genuinely started to think of as ‘straight-with-exception-of’, John can no longer avoid the inevitable.
It’s one thing to come out to your landlady, your boyfriend’s brother, your friends. Your family, however, is a whole different kettle of frightfully judgemental fish. They’ve known you all your life. The chance of disapproval, of disappointment, of sheer fucking refusal of all of this is so vast and so devastating it almost chokes him, keeps him awake, keeps him distracted.
He wishes he could say it is made easier by Harry having been out since she was nineteen. It’s not. It’s knowing how his family reacted to her that makes this so hard for him. The sense of deep responsibility, of not wishing to put his mum through what she put her through, is so immediate it makes him nauseous. Such a traitor, to his sister, to himself, perhaps even to Sherlock to feel that way, but it’s been embedded inside him so deeply he can’t shake it.
So Harry. Yes, Harry. He stands in front of her door for nearly ten minutes after knocking until she finally comes to open it, looking surprised and more than a little guilty. He tries not to notice, tries not to think about what she’d been doing, but there’s an empty wine glass in her sink and a half empty bottle on the counter and nobody else around. She looks good, gained a bit of weight, but the make-up smeared across her face only barely conceals the dark bags under her eyes.
The flat is still as it always used to be but Clara’s absence from it is glaring, her little things gone, the scented candles she used to burn and the huge crochet afghan always present on their sofa no longer there. He doesn’t mention it. He doesn’t mention the new bottle of wine she comes back from the kitchen with, either, quietly accepting a glass of his own from her.
They chitchat mostly about stupid stuff for a while - Harry talks of her job, John talks of the surgery, filling the dead space between them with words they’ve spoken to each other so often they’ve become meaningless. It’s the kind of banter Sherlock refuses, plain and simple, and for a good twenty minutes John feels envious of his capacity to just plain decline these social obligations.
Finally, over her second glass since he’s arrived, she asks him why he’s there. A question that would have been rude, maybe, hadn’t it been so absolutely unusual for her brother to show up at her door out of the blue like he did.
“I need to tell you something,” he says slowly, the words getting caught in his throat. The wine is heavy and it tugs on his tongue She raises her eyebrows at him. “About Sherlock,” he continues. Still too vague. One of the eyebrows goes down, other one staying up. “About Sherlock and me.” He looks at her and waits for the realisation to come through.
It does, a light switching on in the part of Harry’s brain not too affected by the booze. “Oh,” she says. “Oh. Christ, Johnny. Are you serious?”
He nods, cradling his empty glass against his chest. “Dead serious.”
“Oh. Oh, Christ.”
Minutes tick by on the clock on the wall – a gaudy sort of thing, elaborate lettering, Harry fell in love with it in some overpriced bric-a-brac shop in Hastings – as he sits and watches Harry realign everything she thought she knew about her brother.
“How did that happen?” she finally asks.
He throws her a crooked smile and with a shrug tells her the story of Sherlock and him, the first time he’s sat down and just recounted the whole thing start to finish. “This is going to sound stupid, but he started sleeping in my bed for one of his ill-fated experiments. Just sleeping, no funny business. Well, at first. I just. I don’t know. Realised, at some point, how nice it was to just have him there all the time. He talks in his sleep, it's... oddly comforting. Next thing I knew we were already in a relationship without either of us really making the conscious effort to be so and I had a lot, a lot of soul-searching to do. I came out the other end realising I was truly stupidly in love with him and never even noticed I was. I told him. He told me he felt the same way. That’s been a few months now and. Well. It’s all really simple, actually, in a way that’s not and I’ve never felt more in place before. If that makes sense.”
“Yeah, that makes sense,” Harry says with this quiet, awed voice, giving him this look that’s she’s never given him before and it hits him that for the first time in their entire lives they actually understand each other completely. “Are you going to tell mum?”
He winces. “I don’t know. Maybe. I don’t. I rarely speak to her, anyway. I know I’m probably being a coward, but...”
“Yeah, you’re being a coward, but I get it,” she interrupts him with a sigh. “No need to re-enact that childhood trauma, right.”
“Eventually I will,” he says lamely and they both know he’s lying.
“Dad wouldn’t have cared,” she adds and he wishes she hadn’t but nods in agreement, anyway.
She pours herself yet another glass of wine and allows him to refuse one. “So I have to ask. Are you gay, now?”
“I doubt people are ever suddenly ‘gay, now’,” he muses.
“You know what I mean.”
“Yeah. No. Really not. It’s just him, I’m pretty sure. Not that my wandering eye hasn’t had its horizon expanded, just a tad, but you know. He does this to people, not just me either. Takes everything you know to be true about yourself and the world you inhabit and flips it on its arse.”
She smirks, swallowing a mouthful of wine. "I read somewhere that if one twin is gay though, the other one has like a seventy percent chance of being gay as well."
"I'm pretty sure that only applies to identical twins."
"Fine print, come on. Look at the two of us, that’s just weird, isn’t it. On the up side, mum might finally get that son in law she's always wanted."
"Oh, trust me, Sherlock is not quite the son in law anyone ever wanted."
She grins, swirling her wine around in her glass. “You know I’m really going to have to meet him now, right. More than before, even. You have to introduce us now, we’re practically family already.”
“Yeah yeah. You’ll meet him soon enough, I’m sure. Be prepared for a let-down, he thrives on insulting people.”
“So do you. He’s just more obvious about it.”
He looks at her, surprised at so much sudden insight, and places his empty glass on the table.
"Is it really that serious though?" she asks after she’s emptied hers and doesn’t refill it.
"That you’re considering marriage and stuff."
"Oh good grief. No, no no." Not that John can’t easily see them together for the rest of their lives – he doubted Sherlock would let him go, after all – but the idea of tying that knot seems more than a little silly at this point. Sherlock might never recover from laughing if John were to even suggest the idea, anyway. This is one life-long partnership that would remain blissfully unofficial.
"Are you sure? I think he'd look lovely in a froofy white dress."
John throws a pillow at her head.
John feels like a whole person. It’s an odd conclusion, since he can’t remember ever actually being half a person, or two thirds or any other more mathematically complex number, but it’s how it feels and it’s nice so he just goes with it.
He’s in love. He’s not hiding it from anyone. He’s got the most bizarre domestic situation anyone in London could possibly have (and if there actually is someone else in the city whose boyfriend keeps a human thymus in a Tupperware container in the fridge he’d love to meet them, as he’s sure they’d get along famously), and he still gets shot at far more than he should, but he’s in love and everybody knows and he is, quite simply, quite peacefully, and above all quite easily, happy.
He’s counted his losses and he’s counted his gains and came at a balance. He feels that that’s everything anyone can ever ask for, in life.
He puts his homemade tomato-and-noodle soup in front of Sherlock, in a bowl with a Smurf on it he’d gotten for free with his groceries. Sherlock eyes the Smurf and John wonders for a moment if he actually knows what it is.
“Not hungry, John,” Sherlock says simply and goes back to his papers. Something to do with the thymus involving a lot of numbers and long paragraphs in Sherlock’s haphazard handwriting. John doesn’t ask. It’s funny how much of their relationship boils down to that, actually.
“Have you eaten at all today?”
“I had breakfast.”
“You’re lying to me.”
“No I’m not.” The hell he’s not. Sherlock might have still been asleep when John left for work, but he’d be willing to wager his soul that the intolerable prick didn’t eat a damn thing that day.
“Stick out your tongue, let me see.”
Sherlock obliges, sticking out a vaguely confused bit of tongue and looking up at John.
“There, see, you haven’t eaten all day.”
The tongue shoots back into his mouth and Sherlock looks at him in wonderment. “How can you tell?!”
John grins. “I can’t. You just confirmed it yourself. Now listen to me and eat some fucking soup.”
Sherlock frowns and scowls and makes a discontent little noise people are best off no longer making as soon as they’re over six years old, but starts ladling the soup into his mouth regardless. It’s good soup, anyway. John prides himself on his ability to chuck stuff into a pot of water and boil.
He sits down across from Sherlock, flips his laptop open and waits patiently for it to load. His blog needs updating – it’d been a week, almost, since he last put something on there. There’s no case though, at the moment, not much to share, except for... well. He wonders if he should. He wonders if he could. He knows Sherlock doesn’t care and he knows that it will, effectively, be the fastest way to just make everything absolutely crystal delightfully clear to everyone.
He stares at his laptop screen and thinks.
“May I?” Sherlock asks him, demonstratively pushing the empty bowl further onto the table.
“May you, what?”
“Update your blog.”
“You want to update my blog?”
“You’re considering telling people about us on your blog, but are having trouble finding the words. So may I have a go?” How does he do that, how.
“You want to write a blog post… about us.” John raises an eyebrow at Sherlock over his laptop.
“Yes, John, obvious, do keep up.” Sherlock isn’t even looking at him, still scribbling notes alongside what John does believe to be a fairly detailed and surprisingly accurate sketch of the thymus.
“Why don’t you put it on your own blog?”
“Nobody reads my blog, John.”
Oh. Yeah, okay, that’s fair enough. “All right,” he says.
Sherlock looks up now, eyebrows inclined towards his hairline. “Really?”
“Yes, really. But I am reading it before we publish, all right. No surprises.”
Sherlock gives him a half shrug and a half smirk and promptly abandons his work on the thymus, which must mean he’s actually quite serious about this. John gets up, takes the empty soup bowl and figures he might as well do the washing up in the mean time. Sherlock sits and types quietly.
John has finished the washing up, wiped down the counter, the stove, is halfway through brewing a pot of tea, when Sherlock calls him. “John, it’s done. Can you come read it, then?” He turns the laptop around, and John sits and reads and is, nearly literally, knocked off his chair.
Hello, readers of John’s writing. Today it is not the honourable Dr. Watson keeping the masses entertained. It is me, instead, Sherlock Holmes himself, having been allowed the one-time privilege of updating John’s oh-so-famous blog.
Just for the record, my own blog can be found at www.thescienceofdeduction.co.uk. Do visit for a far more educational experience.
The reason John is allowing me to do this is simply that there is something he wishes to convey to the world, and has trouble doing so in a way that feels right to him. I offered my assistance – after all, this matter affects me personally, as well.
The thing is this – the rumours, yes? Those going around concerning John and I, nearly since the day we first met. Today we reveal they are true. They are very true. They have not always been true, but they are now. John and I are, indeed, romantically as well as sexually involved.
For a long time people assumed we were a couple when we weren’t. For most of this time John worried it was him that made them think so, something undesirably ambiguous about his behaviour perhaps, but he was wrong. It was me. It was the way I looked at him, and everybody noticed except for John himself.
John is the most fascinating man I have ever had the pleasure to know. Extraordinary, even. I can never manage to make sense of him, which is fantastic. He continuously surprises me. Just when I think I have him figured out he makes a turn I cannot predict. Just when I think my world rotates gently to the right, he gives it a kick and sends it spinning to the left.
Just when I think I have a grasp on him and on us, he shrugs at me and tells me he’s in love with me. I've never felt about anybody at all the way I feel about John Watson, which is equal parts terrifying and exhilarating.
John writes this blog about me, about life with me, and you people comment and tell him how he’s lucky, how his life is exciting and interesting because of me, but you are all wrong. It’s my life that’s exciting and interesting because of him, and I, indeed, am the lucky one.
So here, dear reader, for you, is our truth: I have never loved anyone, or anything, in my life as I love John Hamish Watson, my blogger. I cannot tell you the depth of happiness it brings me he has chosen to love me back.
John sits back. Rereads. Stares at Sherlock, who has gone back to pouring over his notes like he hasn’t just written the most fantastic testimony to their relationship at all. John rereads it one more time.
He presses ‘publish’. It takes a few seconds and then it’s out there, and John feels incredible.
“You’re a right piece of work, you know that,” he says fondly. Sherlock gives him a non-committal sort of shrug. “Who knew you had the heart of a poet, after all.”
At this Sherlock glares – how dare he suggest he is anything but a scientist, of course – but there’s something to the corner of his mouth, this slightly pleased curl upwards, that tells John he’s taken it as a compliment after all.
John stands, flicks off the laptop – he’s almost certain there will be an avalanche of comments to deal with in the morning, but for the moment he can’t be arsed – and moves to Sherlock, wraps his arms around his shoulders, nuzzles the back of his neck. “Berk.”
“I liked your soup. Do we have more?”
“I just finished clearing up the kitchen, don’t tell me you’re hungry now.”
John sighs, stands up with a ruffle of Sherlock’s hair, and goes to the kitchen. He takes the leftover soup from the fridge and switches on the stove.