Although he didn't particularly hate flying, there wasn't anything specific he liked about it either. The seats were usually cramped, and 90 percent of the time you were seated next to an insufferable elderly man. This flight, unfortunately, didn't make it to the wonderful list of exceptions. The pilot's announcement hadn't done anything to improve John's current mood. For the fifth time in the 3 hours they had been airborne he cursed his flatmate for getting him in the situation in the first place, and he got up from his seat.
Good evening, this is Captain Crieff speaking. I'm sorry to have to tell you a passenger has been taken ill. So if there is anyone with medical training on board, could they please come to flight deck door? Thank you.
The disturbance that had led to this announcement hadn't escaped John's notice. After the cheerful flight attendant had turned crestfallen when one of the passengers wouldn't cooperate by distinguishing his cigarette and the CEO of MJN Air had to step in, John's annoyance with the man had spiked through the roof. Even before the flight, the unbearable man had been complaining about almost everything MJN Air stood for. After his last complaint, which took on the lack of young female stewardesses, John had snapped at the man to shut up. To his own surprise, he had stopped talking, favouring glaring at the other passengers instead. However, when the man had made his way over to the front of the aeroplane to shut himself in the loo, John had the nagging suspicion that not all was right.
You're not the commander of anything! You're a little guy who can't get in game with the big boys and wears a uniform like a rear admiral to make up for the fact that he's basically just a flying cabbie! AM I RIGHT?
The voice of the elderly man had thundered through the cabin, and John had felt sorry for everyone currently employed on this jet. When he came back to his seat, John pretended to be engrossed in the report Mycroft had given him. Though it was very thorough – and mostly nonsense, he suspected – it wasn't very long, and John had already studied the damn thing long enough to be able to recite it by heart. Nonetheless, focusing his attention on the antics of his flatmate was a better option than attacking one of his co-passengers – either verbally or physically.
Now, John made his way over to the front of the aeroplane, were he cautiously entered the galley. There, he found a panicked flight attendant, who seemed to try to revive an unconscious man by waving a piece of chocolate underneath his nose. The image seemed almost funny to John, and he couldn't figure out why the man seemed to be covered in some sort of foam.
A slight cough made the flight attendant look up. Big eyes studied him for a moment, as if trying to read John in order to find out who he was.
“Oh!” he suddenly exclaimed. “Do you by any chance know how to be performing CPR?”
The mention of CPR made John snap back to himself, and he dropped himself on his knees next to the still figure on the floor. He checked for a pulse and found none, and immediately started with chest compressions.
“How long has he been out?” John asked the flight attendant breathlessly. The unconscious man seemed pretty old, which meant that he wouldn't be in luck if he'd stopped breathing more than a few minutes ago. At that moment, the door to the flight deck opened and a flustered, red-haired man entered the now-crowded space of the galley.
“About a minute or so, I think?” the newcomer answered, glancing at the restless flight attendant. His familiar voice told John that this must be Captain Crieff.
“Almost three, Skip!” the flight attendant interjected, “I was looking on my watch and all. It's digital. I reckon that means it's pretty accurate.” The pilot sighed. “Yes, thank you, Arthur.”
John kept beating on the man's chest, and sighed in relief when he twitched and drew in a big gulp of air. He checked for his pulse again, which turned out to be weak but steady. Fortunately the man seemed very groggy, which made it impossible for him to start harassing the crew anew.
“Should we give him some water?” the Captain asked, and John finally looked up from his patient. His affirmative, which was meant to come out as cool and authoritative, was a bit of a squeak. The pilot's eyebrows flew up, and John cleared his throat. “Some water would be good, yeah,” he said, fully aware that he had just sounded like a bloody 14-year-old.
The source of John's quick return to puberty was the young pilot's face. At first, he'd thought he was looking at Sherlock in a quite ineffective disguise. At a reconsideration, however, John noticed there were more differences than similarities between the Captain and his flatmate. Their facial shapes were almost the same – the sharp cheekbones, slanted eyes, and full lips. Nonetheless, the colour scheme was entirely different, as if they were two interpretations of the same model. Where Sherlock was all black and white, Captain Crieff was red and orange. His face had the same sort of pale hue, though it was difficult to see through the thick layer of freckles. His eyes had more colour as well, a bright sea green that was almost mesmerizing. Neither of these deviations was close to being as big as the one in their hair, though. While John had always admired the thick mop of dark curls on Sherlock's head, he felt that this faded into nothing next to the magnificent flame that was Captain Crieff's hair. His curls had all the shades of red that could be found in a midsummer sunset. All of a sudden, John felt that he really, really liked to get to know this man. This made him feel incredibly confused.
During his thorough examination of the man, Arthur had found some bottled water and had poured it into a cup. He held it out for John, though he looked like he would think it very exciting to rehydrate the heavyset man himself. John shook his head hoping he could clear his mind, and accepted the proffered cup. After some patient coaxing, he managed to get some liquid into the floored man. Satisfied that it went down well and the man now tried to pretend to be asleep (which surprised John, since he couldn't be all that comfortable), John slumped from his squatted position and sat with his back against the toilet door.
“Thank you very much for your assistance, doctor...?” Captain Crieff prompted with a hesitant smile.
“Watson,” John answered, and quickly continued with “John, John's fine.” He returned the pilot's smile, starting to recognize the funny feeling he currently had somewhere near his abdomen. “We should be able to make it to Boston without a detour,” he continued, feeling like he should elaborate on the situation. “As long as he's taken to a hospital right away, he should be fine.”
At his announcement, the red-haired man nodded, and disappeared through the flight deck door.
“Wow, that was brilliant!” John had forgotten about the boyish man, who had cramped himself into a corner. John raised his eyebrows, but Arthur apparently didn't fully understand what he just said. Suddenly, the Captain's voice cracked through the loudspeakers once more, informing the passengers that the medical emergency was over and that they shouldn't fear any delays in their flight.
“Would you mind staying, Doctor, erm, John?” Sherlock's look-a-like had popped back out into the corridor, still looking quite harassed. “To attend to our patient, obviously,” he hurried to explain himself, though his query had been obvious to John. “He might, you know, have a setback, or something, or, well, you know...” The man was positively rattling, and John hurried to relieve the poor man.
“Don't worry!” he said. “I'll stay here, look after him. Don't mind a bit of a distraction, to be honest.” At this, the pilot's smile became more genuine. “Good. Good. Good. Thanks.”
All of a sudden, John's patient seemed to regain his wits. “Don't just stand there, being all flirty with each other! At least give me something to clean myself with. Do you have any idea what this suit costs? You moron! Imbecile!” He tried to sit up, started coughing, gave up, and lay back down, all the while glaring effectively at the three men surrounding him.
The pilot looked at John sheepishly. “My sincerest apologies, Mr Leeman,” he said, not at all looking sorry. He turned to Arthur, who grabbed and wetted a towel, and enthusiastically began mopping Mr Leeman's face.
“So, you've these kind of things happening often here, then, Captain Crieff?” John asked the freckled man standing next to him, watching down at Arthur with a smirk.
“Oh! Yes! I am the Captain!” the man answered, which caused his face to flush red once again. “I mean, Martin. You can call me Martin. My name is Martin. Hi.” He looked at John, wide-eyed, and John's smirk changed into a wide grin. “Okay, Martin. Nice to meet you.”
They shook hands, and John would swear that their hands touched slightly longer than commonly accepted.
The rest of the flight went a lot better than the first half. John had spent it crouched in the galley, chatting to the cheery flight attendant and mostly ignoring Mr Leeman's half-hearted insults. It appeared a heart-attack is sufficient to destroy a man's passion for being insufferable, which left him tired and as good as dead to the world. They were disturbed only once, when Carolyn Knapp-Shappey, MJN Air's CEO, had entered the space to check on Mr Leeman. She'd immediately decided to stay clear off the flight deck, however, because every time she looked down at the man, she was prone to a bout of the giggles. John tried to find this incredibly unprofessional, but he couldn't really bring himself to care. Now that everything had turned out fine, the situation did seem pretty hilarious.
As soon as the plane came to a halt, an ambulance team boarded the jet and carried Mr Leeman out. John was glad to see him go, and it was obvious to him that the MJN crew felt the same. One of the medical team conferred with Dr Watson about Leeman's exact state, and after a final grumble of the patient they were gone from the airport. At this point, Martin had joined John back in the galley, and they stood next to each other while waiting for the other passengers to disembark.
“So,” Martin began, “what brings you to Boston? If you don't mind me asking? If you do mind, I'm sorry. I don't mean to pry. Oh, I'm prying, aren't I? I'm so sorry. Ignore me. I didn't say anything. Unless you don't mind telling me. But you probably do. Sorry! Sorry! Sorry!”
John turned to look at the flustered Captain, not sure how to react to the man's obvious distress. “Don't worry, mate,” he said, “I'm here on a bit of business. Nothing special, really. Probably flying back tonight, if I'm lucky.”
At that point, Carolyn swept at them, informing them that all of the passengers had left. “Except for you of course, Dr Watson, so chop chop! Off the plane with you. Thank you for flying MJN!” She pushed John's jacket and bag into his hands, and not-so-subtly showed him to the door of the aircraft. John looked back at Martin, who sheepishly shrugged his shoulders at him, and he gave him a smile while disappearing down the stairs.
As soon as he was in the arrival hall of the airport, John turned his phone back on. He wasn't in the least surprised that it at once informed him that a blocked number was calling. He answered with a curt “Mycroft.”
“John!” his flatemate's brother echoed into his ear. “I would ask about your flight, only I already know what transpired, naturally. You were quite the hero, I hear. Fascinating.”
With his jaws clamped together, John grunted. “Just give me the update, Mycroft. Flattery doesn't suit you,” he said, not even trying to keep the annoyed tone out of his voice.
“Ah! Straightforward as usual. You never manage to disappoint, Dr Watson.”
“Where's Sherlock, Mycroft.”
“You will find my ever-so-charming little brother in the Museum of Fine Arts. I am sure you understand that to mean that, in fact, he will find you. Just be there before noon. Best of luck, Dr Watson.”
“And what, exactly, am I to do there?” he asked, though he had the nagging feeling it would be futile.
“You will find out soon enough, certainly. I wouldn't want to spoil your little holiday.”
“Please, Mycroft. It's not like we're on our honeymoon. It's Sherlock we're talking about.”
“Point taken. I will get in touch when you arrive back in London.”
John stuffed his phone back into his pocket and turned around, about to head towards the exit. However, he was surprised to see Martin standing right beside him, and he staggered in his effort not to bump into him.
“John! Hi!” Martin's voice sounded suspiciously high, which John found oddly endearing. “Of course! You're here to meet up with your boyfriend! I should've known. I mean, not that you're gay, obviously, but that you have a boyfriend. Here! To meet him! On a holiday!”
The man stuttered on, and it took John a while to figure out what he meant.
“Oh! You overheard my conversation?”
This didn't help in the least, because the man became – if possible – even redder.
“No! No! No! Well, maybe just a bit. But not on purpose!”
John grinned, and patted the poor man's shoulder. “Relax, Martin. No worries.”
Tentatively, Martin smiled at him. “I'm making a fool out of myself, aren't I?” he asked, which made John's heart contract in an odd way.
“Just a bit,” he said with a smile. “And, to clear a misunderstanding, I'm not here to meet my boyfriend.”
“Oh.” Martin's face crunched up, as if not sure what he meant. John quickly continued. “I mean I don't have a boyfriend. Or girlfriend. I'm very single.”
“Oh!” At this, Martin seemed to cheer up a little. “Erm,” he began, while trying to look everywhere but at John's face, “in that case, would you be interested, I mean, would you like, maybe, to, erm...” John raised his eyebrows. “Are you trying to ask me out?” he said, hoping it would ease the other man's obvious discomfort.
“No! No! No! That would be horribly unprofessional of me! No!” Martin's eyes seemed to pop out of their sockets, and then a realization sank in. “Unless you want to, of course. Then yes. But not if you don't want to. I mean, you don't have to. Do you, erm, want to?”
He had to do his very best not to yell “yes!” at Martin's question, but John managed to keep himself in. He glanced at his watch, and saw that it was just after 11am, local time. Boldened by Martin's enthusiasm, he lifted the man's mobile phone out of the front pocket of his jacket, and continued to enter his number. “I have to be somewhere before 12,” he explained, “but maybe we can have coffee later? Or dinner?”
Martin's face split into a huge grin, and quickly agreed. “Where do you have to go? We could split a cab?” he offered, and John answered that he had to meet someone at the Museum of Fine Arts. When Martin exclaimed that this was “right next to my hotel!” John was sceptical, but let the young Captain ride with him anyway. Hell, he had to endure Sherlock's moods in about half an hour. He could use some of Martin's apparent enthusiasm.
On the ride over to the museum, Martin and John sat next to each other in the cab, while Martin occasionally pointed landmarks out to John. One perk of being a pilot meant seeing a lot of different cities, John guessed, and he enjoyed the gentle hum of Martin's baritone. When they finally arrived in front of the museum, John quickly scanned the area for Sherlock, and then turned around to give Martin a very unsatisfying handshake. “See you soon,” he said, and disappeared out of the car.
John made his way through the crowd, and as soon as he reached the top of the stairs, Sherlock swept out from behind an oversized potted plant and ushered him to the side.
“Good, you're here. I'm glad you managed to keep yourself from being too distracted by a certain insignificant male pilot. Give me your bag.”
He started pulling at John's bag, but John firmly held on to it. “Wait, what? Sherlock! How could you possibly know that?”
Sherlock's glare seemed to penetrate his whole being, and John shuddered. “Don't be so obvious, John. It doesn't suit you. Let go of the bag.”
With a deep sigh, John released his grip on the bag, and Sherlock immediately started to root around in it. He took one of John's books out of it, twisted the cover a bit, and put the book back into the bag, while simultaneously slipping something with his other hand into one of his coat's pockets. He handed the bag back to John.
“Sherlock, wait, what?” John tried to ask, but Sherlock just shook his head and towed John back towards the entrance. “Just follow my lead,” was his only explanation. By this time, John knew his friend well enough that he wouldn't get a better answer, and followed him into the museum.
Because John had still absolutely no idea what he was doing in a museum with Sherlock bloody Holmes, he fell back in his usual behaviour and followed his friend, hoping they weren't doing anything too illegal. Though Sherlock seemed to be interested in several exhibitions, John wasn't fooled and knew it was just an act. However, he followed his friend's example and actually enjoyed some of the artworks that surrounded them.
When they came to a hall focusing mainly on Oriental art, Sherlock grabbed John's sleeve and put a small digital camera in his hand. “Take some pictures in the far left corner. Make sure to use the flash,” he ordered, and before John could object, Sherlock pushed him in the mentioned direction and took off to the other side of the room.
On his way to a gorgeous painting of a landscape, John grumbled to himself, while at the same time doing some mental preparation. He didn't like the idea of Sherlock flying him all the way to Boston just to use him as some sort of unappreciated decoy, but if he was honest to himself he hadn't really expected anything else. He knew better than to look back at Sherlock, positioned himself in front of the painting, checked the camera's settings, silently apologized to the artwork, and braced himself to be shouted at.
In the end, it hadn't even been that bad. Yes, security had rounded him and ordered to put away the camera, but by now John had his ignorant tourist act down and had come out of the museum without a scratch. When he had met up with Sherlock at the corner of the street, his friend had looked like the cat that ate the canary.
“You were brilliant, John!” Sherlock'd said, and, to John's great surprise, enveloped him into a hug. Then he changed back into his surly self, ordered John to make sure they both had seats on a plane back to the UK that same evening, and hopped into a taxi – to complete his mission, John guessed. You never really knew with Sherlock.
Now, John wondered what to do next. Would it be too soon to call Martin? He didn't want to sound too desperate. He looked around, still standing where Sherlock had left him, as if to come up with inspiration. Then, he shrugged his shoulders, slipped his phone out of his pocket, and realized he didn't even have Martin's number. Stupid! He'd only given him his number, and forgotten to complete the exchange. Annoyed, he shoved his phone back into his pocket, hunched up his shoulders, and started walking towards the park he'd seen on his way over to the museum.
John decided to take a walk around the big lake, revelling in the beautiful colours of nature that surrounded him. He took his phone out of his pocket again, and slowly scrolled through his contact list. Sherlock had ordered him to book them a flight back to England, and he considered calling Carolyn. Would it be acceptable to ask her for Martin's number? Probably not. John gave in to a big sigh, made his way over to the edge of the lake, and sat down on a clean patch of grass. A pair of ducks near him quacked indignantly at him and swam off, which made him laugh despite his misfortune. Was this really what he'd come to, then? Pining after a man he had just met, like some sort of teen-aged girl. He set is mobile phone next to him on the ground, and rested his head in his hands, scrubbing his face. The late afternoon sun shone down on him, warming him pleasantly, and he decided he didn't mind waiting a little bit longer.
Slowly, John felt himself drifting to sleep. Initially he had planned on getting some shuteye on the aeroplane, but today's incident hadn't left any time for anything more than a very brief catnap on the floor of the galley. As if that could do anything to have improved his fatigued state. John quickly glanced at his watch, which told him it was nearing 2pm, Boston time. He had been dozing in the park for a little over an hour by now, and his stomach started growling unhappily. John calculated it would be 7pm back home by now, and his body was expecting some kind of dinner.
Something close to his ear started to belt out the theme song to Doctor Who.
John opened his eyes again, picked up his phone, and groggily stared at the display. Unknown caller, this time. Hope blossomed in his chest, and he answered.
“Yes! I mean, hi! Hi! How are you!”
Martin's voice blared through the phone's tiny speakers, and his obvious anxiety made John smile.
“Fine, just relaxing in the park a bit. The weather's nice.”
John groaned inwardly. The weather was such a cliché.
“Yes! Very nice! Very!”
“Listen, Martin,” John began, not sure how to proceed. He tried to remember the last time he asked a man on a proper date, and failed. Come to think of it, it wasn't until the army that he discovered his bisexuality, and almost immediately after that he'd moved in with Sherlock. God knew he hadn't seen much action of any kind since then.
“I know it's only 2pm, but do you fancy dinner anyway? I mean, because it's –”
“Oh yes! Yes! Yes, please!” Martin interrupted his intended explanation with as much eagerness as John had ever heard. On the other end of the line, John heard Martin clearing his throat, and continue. “There's a lovely little Italian on the same street as my hotel, not far from the museum. If that's still where you are. Would you like to go there?”
Seeing as John didn't know any restaurants in Boston anyway, he was quick to agree with Martin's suggestion. Without too much awkwardness they hung up, and John set out to find a cab to take him to the address Martin had given him.
When he arrived at the restaurant, a small and traditional-looking Italian place, Martin was already waiting for him. He was standing outside in front of the window, hopping from one leg to the other as if to warm himself up. Since the sun was still beaming down on them, John figured it must be due to the nerves – he felt those himself as well.
As soon as Martin spotted John, he beamed at him and John was once more touched by the beauty the younger man seemed to radiate. After a shy greeting, they headed inside and were lead to a table by a friendly-looking waitress. She explained that since it was lunchtime in Boston they weren't able to order everything off the menu, but a great range of pastas and salads was available throughout the day. They put in orders for drinks, and when the waitress left their table to make her way over to the kitchen, both men sat back in their chairs and smiled at the other.
“So...” Martin began, a tad hesitantly, “how was your trip to the museum?”
John smiled, understanding that Martin had absolutely no clue what he and Sherlock were up to most of the time. “It was fun. Didn't get to see much of the art, unfortunately, but most of what I saw was pretty good. We didn't really stay that long, though. I spend more time just sitting in the park, enjoying a bit of nature and a lot of sunshine.”
At his last sentence, Martin's face fell. “Are you and your friend, erm...” he started, not sure what he was asking. John hurried to correct him. “No, just me! He went God knows where when we left the museum. I would've called you, to be honest, but I didn't have your number.”
John looked away then, feeling a blush creeping up in his face.
“Oh!” Martin seemed a lot happier after that last declaration. “Of course!”
At that point the waitress came back with their drinks, and asked after their orders. They both wanted a small salad as a starter, and pasta for the main course. She wrote down their choices and headed to a table on the other side of the small restaurant, where a couple had just sat down.
Martin was fiddling with a breadstick, and John took this as a sign that he wanted to ask him something but didn't dare to. He smiled at him encouragingly, hoping that would make his companion feel more at ease.
“I was just wondering,” Martin finally said, “what, exactly, is your relation with, erm...”
“Yeah.” Martin looked at him sheepishly.
“We're flatmates. Friends. Colleagues, of a kind.”
“And when he calls, you fly out all the way to Boston?”
John caught the underlying tone in Martin's question. He lifted his chin defiantly.
“Yeah,” was all he said, however. He didn't want to scare Martin off before they even started their on their food. Martin caught his tone, and decided it wasn't worth pursuing at this point, so they chatted amicably about general topics for the remainder of their dinner.
When they finished the last bite of their pastas and declined the dessert menu in favour of coffee, John reminded himself of Sherlock's request when he last saw him.
“When are you flying out again?” he asked Martin, who answered that MJN Air was returning to Fitton that night at 11.
“Carolyn has been planning our trips very carefully,” he said, “and if we, as pilots, are required to take a twelve hour break in between flights, it's going to be twelve hours and not a minute more.” John nodded at that, he could see the woman he met being that strict.
“Do you think you've got room for two more passengers?” John asked, hoping Sherlock and he would be able to fly back with MJN the same night. Martin looked thoughtful. “We should be able to manage that,” he said, “we're not really flying back with a job, so our cabin'll be empty. I can arrange it with Carolyn, if you want me to.”
John told him that that would be great, and Martin phoned his boss right away.
At first, Carolyn was not pleased at all. However, when John conveyed – through Martin – that he and Sherlock (Sherlock, really) would pay quite well, she didn't need much more persuasion. Two flights back to Fitton were booked, and John wondered what to do with the remainder of his (their?) time in Boston. Martin suggestions seemed to come straight out of a tourist guide, but in the end the both of them agreed that they were too tired for the usual holiday activities. They split the bill, and wandered in the direction of Martin's hotel.
When they arrived in the dingy lobby, Martin's posture had once more turned rigid. Fortunately for John, living with Sherlock Holmes had done massive things for his ability to read people, so he knew what would be coming next.
“Do. Doyouwantocomup?” John looked at the younger man, trying to gauge what exactly he meant by that. Martin noticed his once-over, and tried to save face in that utterly ridiculously cute way of him.
“No! Nonono! I didn't mean like that! I meant just... You know. Because you don't really have anything else to do. Unless you want to go find your friend. Which would be fine. You'd probably prefer spending time with him. So.”
John felt himself smile, and he hoped Martin wouldn't assume he was laughing at him. “I'd love to come up for a bit,” he said. “Does your room has a telly?”
When he woke up, John found himself lounging against the headboard of a generic hotel bed, clutching a remote control, the head of a very attractive airline Captain comfortably resting on his good shoulder. The reason for his waking up was, regrettably, his mobile phone, so he carefully slipped it out of his pocket. Whereas the sound hadn't woken Martin, his slight movement did, and he immediately sat up straight while John answered his phone.
“What?” he grumbled into the speaker, knowing it would be Sherlock.
“John. I woke you up. Interesting.”
“Sherlock.” He didn't have to try hard to give the name a warning ring to it.
“Oh, fine. I assumed you managed to get us aboard the flight back to Fitton airport tonight?”
John barked a laugh at that. “Seriously Sherlock, you're such a right bastard, you know that? You know full well that I did. I'll see you there.”
“You're on to me, John. I live to make your life a living hell.”
“Sarcasm? Do I detect sarcasm?”
“Hm. Just calling to make sure you actually make it on the plane. I know you have the captain, but I'd rather you both be on time. Texting wouldn't have woken you.”
That last remark gave John the grace to be slightly embarrassed. “Right,” he replied, “we'll be on our way.”
As soon as he ended the call, he glanced at Martin, who was yet again slightly reddish in the face and moving off the bed.
“Sorry about that,” he offered, though in a way he was rather glad that his flatmate had called to wake them up. It would have been more embarrassing if it had been Martin's boss walking in on them to drag them back to the airport, which happened about 5 minutes later.
Of course, it being Carolyn Knapp-Shappey, CEO and owner of MJN Air, she didn't even bother knocking.
“Martin, get your behind down to the lobby asap, please. We're waiting. Douglas is being funny, he --”
At that point, she spotted the both of them, sitting next to each other on the bed, their rumpled clothes straightened and with a modest amount of space between them.
“Oh. That explains Douglas' remarks, then. Why am I not even surprised. Dr. Watson, nice seeing you again.” She nodded to the both of them, and turned around hastily. “I expect you downstairs in 2 minutes,” she added, and swept out of the room.
The shared taxi ride to the airport wasn't nearly as mortifying as John had expected. Apart from a protective glare from Carolyn and a smirk from Douglas, nobody commented on them being found together in a small hotel room. Arthur didn't even seem to notice. He was sitting with his face plastered to the window, calling “Yellow car!” about every 5 seconds. John waited for Douglas to shut him up, but the older man's expression was more fond than annoyed when he looked at the cheery flight attendant. Martin was oblivious to Arthur's private game as well, sitting in the middle between the two of them. He was pretending to be staring outside, but John was well aware of the fact that he used the sidewards position of his head to sneak glances at him. It made it very difficult not to notice Martin's hand, which was perched on his knee so close to his own that he had to quell the urge to hold it.
As soon as they got out of the car at the airport, Sherlock joined their little group.
“John,” he announced, all the while glaring at the MJN crew.
John saw Martin's head snap up, and he knew the captain had to make an effort not to make his jaw drop. He wondered what exactly it was that his new love interest saw in his flatmate. John hoped he made it clear enough that Sherlock was in no way competition.
“Sherlock, meet MJN Air. Carolyn, Douglas, Arthur, and Martin.” John introduced them as informally as possible on purpose, hoping Sherlock wouldn't start making condescending remarks.
“Of course,” he said, his stare coming to a rest on Martin. He gave him a grin that would terrify even an army officer.
“Be nice,” John warned him in an undertone. Sherlock's face flew in a composition of almost convincing surprise. “I'm always nice.”
On the plane, John made several attempts to get Sherlock to tell him what exactly he had been doing in Boston. The only thing that he was willing to share was that the case hadn't been as exciting as he had hoped, but that the result would turn into an interesting experiment. John decided to let it go, and tried not to think too much about a certain pilot now flying the machine they found themselves in.
He wasn't sure why, but for some reason John had expected his flatmate to comment on his obvious entanglements with Martin. Even if he himself had no clue what exactly was going on, he was certain it was something Sherlock would like to investigate up close. The complete absence of interest bugged John a bit, like there was something he was missing. He tried to shrug it off, and pretended to be engrossed in his book. Not that he was entirely interested in its content, but at least it kept Arthur from bombarding him with polar bear facts.
It didn’t take long for John to be lulled asleep by the gentle hum of the aeroplane’s engines. He woke up with a crick in his neck, and was embarrassed to find he’d been drooling on his shoulder. He wiped at his cheek, hoping nobody would notice, and looked around the cabin. The reason for his waking up seemed to be Arthur, who was enthusiastically talking to Sherlock about the almost-plane-crashes MJN’s crew had suffered in the last few years. While John wasn’t too surprised to find that the flight attendant would find this an interesting subject, he was completely flabbergasted that Sherlock seemed to be actually paying attention to the younger man’s stories. He even contributed to the conversation by stating how the plane couldn’t have crashed because of some law of physics or other. His flatmate seemed to be in an exceptional good mood, and it confused the hell out of John.
When the plane finally stood on solid ground, John collected his stuff and moved to the door, where he looked over his shoulder, expecting Sherlock to be right beside him. He wasn’t, though, and instead of moving out of his seat he impatiently waved at John, which he took to mean that John should wait for him downstairs. With a roll of his eyes he followed Arthur and Carolyn out of their aeroplane. As soon as his feet hit the ground, Arthur turned to him.
“Do you want to see if we can find some Toblerone?” he asked, his tone implying this was some sort of important occurrence after a flight. John glanced back up, and decided he might as well wait for Sherlock inside. “Sure,” he told Arthur, and together they took off to the extremely small building that accompanied Fitton Airport.
When Sherlock finally showed up, John only had a minute to say goodbye to Martin before his friend whisked him off, back to London. Martin looked a tad more nervous than normal, and John hoped that didn’t mean the pilot had meant for their short time together to be their last.
“I’ll call you, alright?” he asked Martin, who nodded, smiling, and ducked his head down as if not knowing how to respond. Sherlock had already managed to take hold of a cab, and yelled at John to hurry. With his last courage he quickly stroked his finger along Martin’s cheek, and he followed his flatmate back home.
John spend most of the time in the car staring out of the window, thinking of what had happened on this very unusual trip. His curiosity surrounding Sherlock’s mission had almost entirely dissipated, leaving more space in his mind to marvel his luck at meeting Martin. It wasn’t until they hit the outskirts of London that he realized that his companion was uncharacteristically silent, especially considering he was near the end of a case.
“Aren’t you supposed to be, I don’t know, fill me with awe at your latest bout of genius?” he good-humouredly asked Sherlock, at which his friend considered him in a way that made John feel as if he could read every single thing that had crossed his mind at any time in his life. Which, John thought, he probably could.
“John,” he began, “you must know I feel... conflicted.” John raised his eyebrows. As far as he knew, that wasn’t even an emotion Sherlock knew.
“Of course I know people feel conflicted sometimes, John. It’s very easy to read, most of the time. However, I must admit that it is not a state of being I am familiar with myself. Therefore, I ask of you that you lend me some patience.”
If possible, John felt even more confused than before. “You do realize that I have absolutely no clue what you’re going on about, right?” he asked his friend, while trying to be understanding. Sherlock nodded. “Of course,” he said, “yet I know not how to broach the subject in a sensitive manner. This confuses me, for I am usually not interested in being sensitive.” Now it was Sherlock’s time to wrinkle his brow, which reminded John of a child that didn’t understand why a cube wouldn’t fit in a triangular hole.
It took a couple of seconds before it began to dawn on John. “Is this about,” he ventured, “my entanglements with a certain aeroplane captain?”
Sherlock visibly relaxed, obviously glad his friend caught up with his trail of thought. “Quite right,” he said. “I know that, when we first met, we both agreed that ‘it’s all fine’, yet the idea of you going off with another man makes me feel uneasy. I don’t... I don’t understand why. Why does this make me feel uneasy, John?”
The tone of Sherlock’s voice had something distinctly fragile, and John had to suppress the urge to reach over and take his friend into his arms. This was made easier, however, by the fact that they entered Baker Street, so he gave Sherlock a small smile while taking his wallet out of the back pocket of his jeans. When the cabbie stopped before 221b, John paid him and he and Sherlock made their way to the front door.
Once upstairs, they discarded their coats and bags, and Sherlock settled on the couch while John entered the kitchen to make them some tea. When he was done, he carried two steaming mugs to where his flatmate was sitting and handed him his cup. Instead of sitting in his chair, like he usually would’ve done, he sat down next to Sherlock and turned, so they were facing each other.
He wasn’t entirely sure how to start, so he went with the blunt manner. This tended to work best on Sherlock anyway, since he was quite oblivious to subtle differences in tone and emotion when it came to such discussions. “You’re jealous,” he said, not even making it a question. He knew his friend, his best friend, well enough to be able to see how his actions affected him.
His statement made Sherlock so lost, John took pity on him. He put his mug down on the coffee table, and took one of Sherlock’s hands into his own. “Look, Sherlock. I don’t know why this affects you so much more than any of my other relationships have, if you would even call this a relationship since I just met the man, but I guarantee you now that I will never, ever, leave you. Do you understand me?” He waited until Sherlock met his gaze, seeing the doubt in his eyes. “I know you’re married to your work, and I respect that. I also know that I’m a part of your work, and that you see the two as inseparable. However, I don’t share your marital status and would very much want to be in a romantic relationship with another human being. But,” and he hurriedly continued, for Sherlock started to look frantic, “but I will never leave you. You are my best friend and you will always be my best friend. And yes, that means it’ll be very difficult for me to find someone who’ll put up with me. But it’s going to be worth it because I love you and there is no way I would ever go back to the life I used to live. Do you understand what I’m saying? Sherlock?”
His words seemed to have made a huge impact on his flatmate. He looked dazed, and his mouth was opening and closing like a fish on dry land. But then, all of a sudden, his mind made sense of it all. “John,” he breathed, before closing in on him, all long limbs and tangling him into the most intimate hug they’d ever shared. “John,” he repeated, before closing his eyes and resting his head on John’s shoulder.
It was five days later before John and Martin got in touch. At first, Martin solely attributed it to his busy schedule, but then he admitted he’d been scared off by John’s tall flatmate. When he told John that Sherlock had ganged up on him after their flight back to Fitton to give him a ‘hurt him and you’re dead’ speech, John hadn’t even felt a flicker of surprise. The daft sod. He’d immediately apologized to Martin, and sorely hoped it hadn’t put him off. It hadn’t.
John had invited Martin over to London, where they had a very stereotypical date of going to the cinema and having dinner at a casual restaurant. It was lovely, and exactly what John had hoped for. Afterwards, it didn’t take long for the three of them to settle in a relaxed schedule. When Martin was on a job, John would accompany Sherlock on his cases, solving them together like they always would. On Martin’s days off, John would visit him in Fitton, or Martin would come over to London. Sometimes Sherlock would tag along on their date, but neither really minded. Occasionally there was some jealousy, but John was always quick to catch on and comfort the hurt party.
For the first time in his life, John felt like he had it all. The excitement and danger, the security and love. He knew some would criticize his relationship, but he couldn’t care less.
John Watson was happy, truly happy, and he considered himself the most lucky man in the world.