"Jenna Surbridge, aged 17, strangled just outside of Leason Park and left in a small ditch on the side of the road," Lestrade rattled of the case details as Sherlock inspected the body of the young woman, who was sprawled out on a sheet of black plastic. He snapped open his pocket magnifying glass and held it to the purpling bruises collaring her neck. In a fluid motion, he stood and scanned the street she was found on, sharp green eyes squinting from the bright sunlight. John stood, leaning against the window of Lestrade's cruiser, eyes closed.
"You alright?" Greg came to stand beside the doctor, lifting up his sunglasses slightly.
"The victim, Jenna, reminds John of his sister," Sherlock answered, running his long fingertips over the white slats of a nearby picket fence, "It's difficult for him to inspect the body."
Lestrade's face relaxed into an expression of sympathy, "John-If it's hard for you I can have Anderson take a look." He motioned to the grumpy looking officer, who was chatting in a low voice with Donovan by an adjacent police car.
"No—no, it's fine," John protested weakly, but made no move towards the motionless figure lying face-up on the pavement. Sherlock swept over, his coat billowing around his calves. Lestrade raised his small notepad, looking at his consulting detective expectantly. Instead of rapidly solving the case at hand, however, Sherlock was gazing intently at John, who was staring back, his brow crinkled in a confused expression. To Lestrade's acute surprise, Sherlock wrapped his long arms awkwardly around the shocked doctor, whose face was suddenly pressed into his flat-mate's chest.
"Sher—," John's voice was muffled by the navy blue scarf wrapped around Sherlock's neck.
"Hugs are comforting, are they not?" Sherlock stepped back, inspecting John carefully. Shrugging, John motioned to Lestrade. At once, Sherlock sprang into a highly detailed deduction that left the detective inspector cursing as he attempted to write it all down.
"She was a walker of the night, 'Roxanne', if you will," Sherlock finished, pulling his collar up around his neck, "The murder was a simple gesture of hostility to a rival party, gang, most likely," He started walking towards the main road, glancing back quickly to see if John was following. He was, of course, after saying a hurried goodbye to Inspector Lestrade.
John caught up with Sherlock and padded silently beside him, his mind churning.
"You don't hug."
"You don't hug, you don't," John continued eagerly. It was a right pain in the arse trying to get Sherlock to talk about his actions, let alone his feelings, which he claimed he did not possess.
"People comfort people they care about," Said Sherlock shortly, determinedly not looking in John's questioning eyes.
"That's nice," Stated John simply. It was nice, being cared for by Sherlock Holmes. He smiled to himself as they walked towards the main road, a small glimmer of hope blossoming in his mind.
The cab ride was quieter than usual. Sherlock drummed his fingers on the armrest, creating an erratic beat. John glanced at the consulting detective, who was staring determinedly out the window. The ex-soldier was firm in his belief about his sexuality; heterosexual, as always. But ever since he had entered through those doors at 's and seen Sherlock standing there, hand suspended over a petri dish, John wasn't so sure. So he sat there, examining the long curves of his friend's neck, the prominent collarbones, pale unblemished skin. He looked, because at the moment, it was the only thing he could do. John Watson was straight, after all.
That night it rained. Heavy gusts of wind and hail buffeted the windows of 221b Baker Street. Mrs. Hudson had insisted on a fire in the hearth in addition to the heat. John didn't mind, though. It was quite comfortable by the fireplace with a mug of steaming tea and an interesting book he had found on the cluttered shelf in the corner. Sherlock was nowhere to be seen, which meant the flat was rather peaceful, uninterrupted by loud bangs or impatient snorts from the bored detective.
It getting late, around 11 o'clock, when Sherlock slunk into the living room like a wily cat. His eyes were flinty as he fixed his gaze on John, and curled into a ball in his armchair. John eyed him with an air of amusement.
"You been trying to sleep? For once?" He asked lightly. Sherlock steepled his fingers and gazed back at John with scrutiny, "Yes. Trying to."
"The rain keeping you up?"
Sherlock paused. "No."
"What is it, then?"
Sherlock let his steepled fingers fall until they pointed at John. "You."
John looked taken aback, "Me?"
The hail pattered relentlessly on the window, accompanied by the heavy whoosh of wind.
"You," Sherlock inclined his head and spoke to the ceiling, "I'm not—good, at relationships, John. I never have been, and I never will, yet, you elect to stay here with me and contribute fully in dangerous cases. Why? I asked myself this the day you agreed to move in with me. A complete stranger, who could deduce so much about you in one look, that'd scare anyone away. But not you," He got up suddenly and strode over to where John sat apprehensively, "I see you watching me, John, when you think I can't see."
"I don't know what you're talking about, Sherlock, I really don't," John rose and dodged Sherlock, crossing to the sink in the kitchen to clean out his empty mug.
"I'm the only consulting detective in the world, and you thought I wouldn't notice?" Sherlock followed him.
"Notice what?" John spat irritably. His heart was hammering inside his chest, panic flooding his mind.
"Desire, John," He was directly behind John, his lips practically brushing the doctor's neck.
"Stop it," John tensed, but did not move. Sherlock placed one hand on John's hip experimentally, grinning vaguely as the doctor sighed almost inaudibly. "I'm not-."
But John's protest was lost as Sherlock spun him around, kissing him full on the mouth. Sherlock's lips were softer than John expected, and surprisingly his mouth tasted nice, like peppermint. They broke apart after a minute. The detective's eyes bore into John's with an air of intense scrutiny, as if trying to decipher the result of another one of his experiments. Realizing his hands had been suspended in midair, John let his arms fall awkwardly to his sides.
"That—er—right, okay," He stammered, licking his lips. Yes, definitely peppermint.
"Just—okay?" Sherlock didn't look hurt, per say, but his shoulders slumped marginally and his bottom lip pouted slightly.
"New, that's all. I'm not—or—I didn't think you—,"
"Were gay?" Sherlock interrupted him.
"I thought you figured that out the first night we met, at Angelo's." Sherlock grinned smugly down at the doctor, who was still crushed against the counter, " 'Not really my area', remember?"
"I had suspicions."
John brought his right hand to Sherlock's cheek. Slowly, he guided Sherlock's face down to his, and kissed him again. Wrapping both his arms around the detective's neck, he deepened the kiss, biting down on Sherlock's lower lip tentatively. With a low snarl, Sherlock hoisted John up onto the counter. Even sitting atop the counter John was barely taller than Sherlock, but he took advantage of the sudden height and enveloped his flat mate in another wild kiss, forcing his chin up to meet his mouth.
"Woohoo!" Mrs. Hudson called, rapping on the door with her knuckles, "You've got a visitor!"
The two scrambled away from each other, John hopping off the counter and away from his flat mate. Sherlock raked his fingers through his mussed up hair, closing his eyes for a moment before turning on the spot.
"A client?" He asked vaguely, glancing over at John who stood sheepishly against the refrigerator.
"Not a client, no," Mycroft strode into the room, a knowing smile playing on his lips as he caught sight of John's flushing cheeks, "Not—interrupting anything, am I?"
Sherlock ground his teeth irritably, "What do you want, Mycroft?"
"I'm allowed to check up on my younger brother once and a while, aren't I?"
"Not this late, you're not," Sherlock snapped, planting his hands on his slender hips.
The elder Holmes raised his eyebrows, suppressing a smug grin, "I'm here to invite you to a little—party I'm throwing this weekend. Do try and attend."
"A party?" Sherlock wrinkled his nose in distain, "What would you be throwing a party for?"
"Lestrade's engagement, haven't you heard?" Mycroft let out a terse laugh, leaning on the handle of his signature black umbrella, "He and Ms. Hooper just announced it last week—my, my you are getting slow."
"We'll be there," John intervened, nodding to Mycroft. The elder man returned the gesture graciously, "Thank you." He turned to exit the flat, pausing only to remark, "And do keep him in check, John, he doesn't like formalwear."
As soon as Mycroft left, John relaxed, unaware that he had been holding his breath. He glanced over at Sherlock, who was eyeing him curiously.
"We're going," John raised his eyebrows as Sherlock's expression lapsed into a pout, "Molly's our friend."
"I understand that, John. I'm just entirely averse to being herded into a small room with Molly's chatty relatives and well-wishers," He grumbled, throwing himself dramatically onto the sofa, "Why can't we congratulate her at the lab?"
John rolled his eyes, exasperated. Unfortunately, he was so used to Sherlock's violent mood swings that he simply edged out of the room and crept upstairs to his bedroom.
"Where are you going?" Sherlock stretched out on the couch, neck straining as he followed John's progress up the staircase.
"Getting some sleep."
"Sherlock, if you want to come, just ask," John grinned to himself as he slipped into his bedroom, leaving the door open a crack. He was just climbing into bed when Sherlock appeared in the threshold, his expression one of nervousness bordering on irritation.
"I don't really-I'm not sure where you stand on this," Sherlock waved his hand vaguely between them, "Since we got interrupted by my clot of a brother."
"Oh just get in, will you?" John patted the duvet to his right, grinning encouragingly. Obliging, Sherlock shed off his navy blue dressing gown and crawled onto the mattress, slipping underneath the covers. He hesitated for a moment, unsure of what to do next. Huffing in amusement, John leaned across him and flicked off the light. The street-lamps outside cast a faint orange glow around the room, illuminating half of Sherlock's pensive face. Sighing, John curled into him, throwing an arm lazily across Sherlock's chest. With gentle goading, Sherlock was eventually fast asleep, his nose pressed into John's ashy blonde hair. Just as John faded contentedly into unconsciousness, he wondered how the hell he was going to get Sherlock Holmes to wear a tux.
Chapter 2: Comfort Is A Strange Thing
Written by iFranceskate.
Sherlock's mobile bleeped loudly from the nightstand, signaling a new text. John cracked an eye reluctantly, wincing as the morning light hit him squarely in the face. His arms and legs were both pinned underneath Sherlock's sprawling limbs, who snored lightly, his breath tickling the side of John's cheek.
"Sherlock, gettup," John managed to disentangle himself enough to lean over and read the text, simultaneously wiping the sleep from his eyes.
Don't forget, 5.00 –MH
Groaning, he flopped back against the mattress as Sherlock stirred, his strikingly jade eyes narrowing.
"WusthatMycroft?" He slurred, grimacing.
"Mm," John murmured, smiling faintly at the apprehensive look on Sherlock's face, "We need to get you a proper suit."
Scoffing, Sherlock rolled away from John and sat on the edge of the bed, stretching his arms over his head, "Mycroft can't bully me into wearing a tuxedo."
"But I can," John sat up and pulled Sherlock back onto the bed, "And you will wear one or—,"
"—or what," Sherlock interrupted, his lips curling up into a smug grin.
"Or I'll move out and get hitched to that pretty girl from the clinic."
"Oh, John, don't think you can fool me."
He tried switching tactics, "I'll make you sleep in your own room from now on."
Sherlock hesitated, "Fine."
"I'll wear a bloody tux."
Sherlock dodged John and got up, stalking into the bathroom with a petulant backwards glance. Leaning up against the headboard, John grinned to himself. This was utterly ridiculous, all of it. Sherlock wasn't playful, he wasn't even a tiny bit agreeable on any front, and yet—something was different. It seemed as if last night's events had rushed by in a frenzied blur, that with the surprisingly abrupt crumbling of their 'just-friends' label and with Mycroft's unheralded appearance. Sherlock didn't kiss anyone either, besides Mrs. Hudson. And yet he had been the instigator of John's somewhat-embarrassing confession. John raked his hands through his hair, chuckling to himself. Reluctantly, he rolled out of bed and glanced at the digital clock on the side table. He swore loudly and scrambled to the closet, tripping over Sherlock's coat, which was in a heap on the floor.
"It's already one!" John called over his shoulder as he began rifling through his more formal clothing, scowling as he eyed the rumpled suit jackets, "Do you even own a tuxedo?"
"Of course," Sherlock answer was muffled by the running water, "Mycroft made sure of that."
He scanned the top rack once more before his eyes fell on the abandoned military uniform tucked neatly away out of sight on a shelf in the back. It was certainly formal enough—with its crisp navy color and striking gold trim. Would the badges be a little much? It could work. He pulled the uniform out and gazed down at it, memories rushing back in a sudden torrent. Sherlock emerged from the shower, a towel slung around his narrow waist. Raising his eyebrows at John, he sauntered over and inspected the fusiliers uniform closely, squinting at the row of multi colored badges. Dipping his head, Sherlock swallowed and averted his gaze, busying himself with rustling around in his dresser.
"What?" John queried, "This won't do?"
"It's perfectly fine." Sherlock sounded immensely flustered, but he covered it with a sidelong glance at John, face wiped completely of emotion, "Despite the horrid stench of mothballs." He wrinkled his nose to convey disgust, but John wasn't buying it.
"What, do you have a certain liking for men in uniform?" John teased, "I saw how much you enjoyed me pulling rank in Baskerville. But I never thought—."
"Oh shut up," Sherlock pulled out a stark white button down and a slightly rumpled jacket, "This will be fine, will it not?"
"Mhm, yeah," John lay the uniform on the edge of the bed and made his way into the bathroom, "Get dressed while I'm in the shower, please. We need to go pick out a present as soon as possible."
Dripping with sarcasm, Sherlock replied, "Yes, sir," before drying his mop of curly brown hair with the towel.
"You look—er—good," Sherlock's eyes scanned John quickly before he turned back to the window. They were seated in the cab, speeding towards the reception hall with a slightly over-done gift basket wedged between them.
"So do you," John shifted uncomfortably, adjusting the tapered end of the champagne so it wasn't jutting into his thigh. The consulting detective did look fantastic. His tuxedo was a bit wrinkled, but it seemed to suit him none the less. Every plane of fabric seemed to accentuate Sherlock's trim waist and—well—truly fantastic rear end. John swallowed, crossing his legs. Beside him, Sherlock huffed in amusement.
"It's perfectly alright, John. I know we didn't really have a chance to finish what we started the other night."
"I wasn't thinking about that."
"Oh, bugger off."
As the cab pulled up in front of the reception hall, John reluctantly let go of Sherlock's hand and hefted the gift basket into his arms. In front of the enormous double doors, John bit his lip.
"Behave myself, yes, as long as you keep your word."
"Right. In we go."
With a wry smirk, Sherlock wrenched the doors open and grinned widely, ushering John into the room.
The reception hall was really more of a down-scaled ballroom, with high Corinthian columns supporting the vaulted ceiling. Cream white balloons were strung to the chairs and to the circular tables in one corner of the room while a stretch of light-wood indicated where the dance floor was situated. Simple—plain—like Molly herself, but dazzlingly bright and festive nonetheless. Sherlock hovered close by John’s elbow as Greg swooped over and slapped them both on the back enthusiastically, a giddy smile stretched across his face.
“I’m glad you could come! I was afraid Mycroft hadn’t gotten the message to you two,” He chuckled and nodded to the elder Holmes, who lingered over by the dessert table, staring longingly at the plethora of baked goods before him.
“We wouldn’t miss it,” John grinned and clapped Greg on the shoulder, “Congratulations, mate.” He nudged Sherlock stiffly in the ribs.
“Yes, yes, congratulations,” Sherlock amended hastily, obviously trying to keep the impatient brusqueness out of his voice.
“Where’s Molly?” queried John, craning his neck to see over the hoard of well-wishers occupying the dance floor.
“Getting buried by gifts, it seems,” Greg pointed to where Molly sat, surrounded by what seemed to be her relatives and friends who were proffering present after present as they twittered away gleefully, “Feel free to grab a table, we’ll be starting in a moment with the cake and champagne.”
John led Sherlock over to an empty table and sat down, regarding his flat-mate curiously.
“You’re being awfully---” He searched for the right word, “---Docile.”
“Am I?” Sherlock drawled, already bored with the proceedings. He was positively itching to undo the uncomfortably restrictive collar of his tuxedo shirt.
“We don’t have to stay for long,” John reasoned, noting Sherlock’s discomfort, “Just before the dancing starts we’ll slip out.”
Sherlock sniffed and avoided John’s eyes, focusing instead on Molly, who was making her way over to them. She did look radiant, and deliriously happy. It seemed she had taken Sherlock’s advice with the lipstick—and as much as John didn’t want to admit it—it suited her better than the shocking red color she wore at Christmas.
“Hello John, Sherlock!”
“Molly! Congratulations!” John stood up to hug her, simultaneously raising his eyebrows at Sherlock, who had remained seated.
“Yes—congratulations.” Sherlock smiled awkwardly and wrapped his long arms around Molly in a tentative hug. She flushed and beamed eagerly at them both. A young woman who looked like Molly’s sister edged up next to them, eyeing Sherlock curiously and tucking a strand of her thin auburn hair behind her ear.
“Mols, the cake is out.” She flashed a smile in Sherlock’s direction before rejoining the group of women fussing over the gifts. John narrowed his eyes and glanced over at Sherlock, who looked ridiculously smug. Apparently he was not entirely lost when it came to recognizing when someone was being flirtatious.
When all the guests were supplied with a fair amount of vanilla bundt and a glass of champagne, the somewhat stroppy toasts began, starting with Molly’s sister, who turned out to be named Lisa.
“My little sister was always the shy one in the family,” She began, grinning around at the collected audience, “And the smart one. At least smart enough to catch this one!” She pointed to Greg and everyone laughed appreciatively. John heard Sherlock snort and shot him a warning look. The small speeches continued as everyone ate and drank, some relatives getting more than a little tipsy and slurring their words together before sitting down abruptly to fan themselves. Eventually, Lestrade calmed everyone down enough to usher the congregation onto the dance floor. By then, the lights were dimmed and the entire hall glimmered with blue and red lights. A medium paced song began playing and the guests started to shed their layers over the backs of chairs to go dance.
Before he knew what was happening, Molly was pulling John up by the hand and leading him onto the floor. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and moved her feet in time to the music, whirling them around the perimeter of the packed dance floor.
“Did something happen between you and Sherlock?” Molly asked, leaning in close so John could hear her.
“What do you mean?” He tried his best to hide his surprise at the question.
“I dunno—he just seems more—”
John shrugged and avoided Molly’s eyes glancing instead to where Sherlock sat. He had finally ripped off the bowtie and tossed it on the linen table cloth. Still, Sherlock looked unusually forlorn.
“You should ask him to dance.”
“Sherlock doesn’t dance.”
“He might with you.”
“No, I don’t think he would.”
“He trusts you, John, whether you know it or not.”
Molly waved Sherlock over eagerly as John protested weakly, a tension coiling tightly in his stomach. Reluctantly, Sherlock rose from his chair and came over, his brow furrowed in confusion.
“John was wondering if you would fancy a dance with him?” Molly offered, grinning fiendishly. Balking, John stared at her. He was just about to object to her statement when Sherlock nodded, his lips quirking into a half-smile.
“I’ll gladly take it from here, thank you Molly.”
She clapped her hands together as she let go of John and skittered away to find Greg in the tangle of people on the dance floor. John eyed Sherlock apprehensively as he stepped closer.
“I didn’t think you liked to dance.”
“That doesn’t mean I won’t.”
Sherlock scoffed and pulled John closer, wrapping his long arms around his middle. “Must I always have a reason?”
“You always have a reason. I’ve lived with you long enough to know that much,” He glanced up at Sherlock, who suddenly seemed unnervingly close. “Look, I know that we—you know—what we did last night—”
“Oh not this again—” Sherlock rolled his eyes, “Honestly, John. Even though you’re a stickler for consistency doesn’t mean you constantly have to deny your sexualit—” John silenced him with a withering look.
“If I didn’t want to kiss you—I wouldn’t have,” Sherlock amended, dipping his head slightly. The music changed to something slow—Frank Sinatra or maybe Tony Bennett. They rotated slowly on the spot, seemingly oblivious to the guests around them.
“10 quid says they kiss by the end of the night,” Lestrade murmured under his breath as he and Molly drifted past.
“Oh shh! Greg!” Molly scolded, breaking into a fit of giggles as he chuckled knowingly.
“We’ve all seen it coming.”
It was relaxing, really, floating around the edge of the dance floor in Sherlock’s arms. John hesitated before resting his head in the crook of Sherlock’s shoulder.
“You’d sound good singing this song.” He commented, inhaling deeply. Sherlock didn’t answer, but instead brought one hand up from John’s waist and tangled his fingers in his hair, massaging gently. Though uncharacteristically tender, John decided he liked this uncertain (and a tiny bit awkward) version of Sherlock.
“It’s because of my voice; somewhat deep and even—coupled with my extensive knowledge of music and the delicate cadence that this particular tune—and of course at this close proximity you’d be able to press your ear to my chest and feel the words as well—In fact you’re already doing just that.” He paused and tipped John’s head back slightly, examining his expression. Before John could affirm his deduction, Sherlock’s lips were pressed against his. Drawing away, Sherlock’s mouth quirked in a self-satisfied fashion. “I think we ought to get home. It’s getting late.”
Flustered, John nodded eagerly. “Yes yes, I think we must—just—slip out. Wouldn’t want to break up the happy couple for a petty goodbye, now would we?”
“No—wouldn’t want that,” Sherlock began to pull John towards the door, snatching up the abandoned bowtie as he rushed past.