THE RED ROSE
John left his fluffy green jacket aside while Sherlock’s eyes instinctively followed his companion’s movements. There was a strange feeling in Sherlock’s stomach now. To be honest, he kept feeling uneasy and tense around John on and on – it has been like this for months now. When John was not around – strange – Sherlock felt some kind of deep and cutting melancholy. Something was not quite right. At least Sherlock was certain for one thing. All this was because of John.
‘Spaghetti or a gooood steak?’
Sherlock’s eyes locked on John’s forehead. John raised his look, upon the lack of answer. He moved his eyes suspiciously and lowered his voice.
‘What is it now, Sherlock? Are we suspecting someone... again?’
Silence. Sherlock was now studying John. His perfectly shaped wrinkles – just like a God-created ancient statue. His thin pinkish lips, now nervously licked by the bloody red brisk tongue. His snubby little nose, resembling a small hedgehog’s one. His childish and genuine smile. His long fingers, restlessly moving around the table, tickling the cover’s edge. And his short but incredibly muscular body underneath those... layers and layers of jumpers and cardigans. John.
‘Sherlock? Is there something wrong going on? Tell me.’
Sherlock shook off his head and swallowed hard. Then tried to make a little smile, more resembling a smirk.
‘I think that you’ve had enough steaks. Try the spaghetti. After all, this is an Italian restaurant, right?’
John directed his eyes at the menu but suddenly looked at Sherlock once again. Sherlock, however, did not move his gaze away from John. John coughed, feeling a bit... awkward.
‘What’s going on, Sherlock?’
‘Nothing. Nothing. Everything is perfectly fine.’
‘No, it’s not. I can see it’s not. Something is teasing you,’ John slammed the list closed and leaned forwards, resting his elbows at the table, ‘Tell me, Sherlock. I may hel-...’
‘No, you can’t,’ with all the zest he found in himself, Sherlock moved his eyes away from John and tried to focus them on something. Cactus at the end of the restaurant. That’s it. The perfect target. John, however, followed Sherlock’s eyes. Chuckled.
‘Oh, you’re ok, yes. You’ve never looked at random cactuses before. But you’re ok. You’re deducing it, right?’
Sherlock shot a deadly glance at the giggling John. Instantaneously, however, it eased down – his ice blue eyes melted into ocean greenish. This odd but yet pleasant pain in his stomach again.
‘It’s 7p.m. already, Angelo,’ corrected him Sherlock, without even bothering to look at him.
‘Ah, si, of course. How are you today? Beef steak, Dr Watson?’
‘Nope,’ John chuckled barely noticed, ‘I would have spaghetti Carbonara.’
‘Oh! Has Sherlock mentioned to you that we make the best spaghetti in London?’
‘Sort of,’ shot Sherlock with a rather bored tone. He folded his long thin fingers under his chin. John shook off his head, sighing. He handed the list to Angelo.
‘And a glass of my favourite white wine, Angelo. Thanks.’
When Angelo moved away, John looked at the constantly staring at him Sherlock.
‘You won’t tell me, right?’
‘What. Should. I. Tell. You?’
‘You’re no longer the same, Sherlock. Do you think I haven’t noticed? When I am away, you’re constantly calling me. When I finally get home, you slam the door of your room under my nose and you refuse to talk to me, even to look at me. When we are together... you are behaving rather... oddly, I shall say. What’s wrong with you? Am I missing something? Please, tell me if I am.’
‘Nothing is wrong with me.’
Angelo pushed John a bit, settling a candle between the two. John let out a heavy sigh. Sherlock bit his slightly trembling lips. He looked at Angelo and made a hand-gesture, swallowing hard. John’s reaction – oddly enough – disappointed him a bit.
‘No need, Angelo. There’s enough light in here.’
Angelo nodded with a smile but still left the candle at the table. When he was gone, Sherlock hurried up to put the fire out. Looked through the window – a slight blush covering his (gorgeous, John thought) cheekbones.
‘Is there... someone?’
John swallowed so hard, that Sherlock heard his loud heartbeat, immediately directing his eyes towards the ocean dark blue ones of John. He tried to smile but couldn’t – something very heavy (unusually heavy, to be said) – was irritating his throat. He coughed, trying to clear it. Unsuccessfully. Grabbed the glass of water in front of him and took a large sip. Sighed.
John’s eyes widened. He instinctively leaned forward.
‘Yes, John, there is someone.’
‘Not a criminal, I hope?’
‘No,’ Sherlock smirked, ‘Not at all.’
Angelo approached them once again, placing a tall vase at the middle of the table. Gone again. John frowned, looking suspiciously at it.
‘Does someone else... know about... her?’
Sherlock raised his left eyebrow. John pouted, then licked his upper lip and bit it. Coughed. Without even feeling it, he blushed. Sherlock started blushing too.
‘Is it him?’
Sherlock refused to answer this question, looking through the window once again.
‘Some time ago, we had this exact conversation. Here, at Angelo’s.’
‘Yes. Yes, I know,’ John nodded anxiously, ‘Is it him, Sherlock? And don’t tell me you are married to your work. I can sense you are extremely distracted recently – you can’t even work properly, for God’s sake!’
‘He is my work now.’
‘So, it’s him. Right,’ John nodded in slow motion. His eyes widened in a sudden sparkle, ‘Wait! Are you telling me-... Sherlock! Have you already proposed to him?’
‘Is this what people do? Propose?’
‘To the people they love – yes.’
‘Do I love him?’
‘Well, you seem to.’
Angelo came around with the spaghetti and with a blooming red rose which he gently put in the tall vase and patted John’s and Sherlock’s backs.
‘Bon appétit, Dr Watson!’
John, with a surprised look directed at the red rose, nodded in response.
‘That’s it,’ John clicked his tongue, ‘I can’t take it anymore.’
‘He gave us rose this time. This surpasses any impudence of his. This is just ridiculous!’
‘So?’ Sherlock got nervous, tapping the table with his fingertips, ‘You’ve never complained before...’
‘It’s a bloody rose! Sherlock!!!’
Sherlock nodded, his eyes involuntarily saddening. His face was suddenly incredibly gloomy.
‘So, you don’t like it, then?’
‘I am not saying I don’t like it. It’s just... not appropriate.’
John took the fork and put the handkerchief on his knees. Sherlock leaned back, biting his lower lip to blood, cracking his knuckles.
‘You never asked who he is.’
John smacked and nodded, taking a sip from his glass of wine. Sherlock looked at the rose between them. John looked at it as well.
‘He likes red roses?’
‘He finds them... inappropriate.’
John leaned back with look of... revelation. He took a deep breath, somehow forgetting to breathe out.
‘What else? What does he do? Do I know him?’
Sherlock nodded once again – his eyes never leaving the red rose. John got a bit angry. He grabbed the vase.
‘Oh, Sherlock! Stop looking at this god-damned rose!’
Pushing the vase away, John heard a clang echoing. He stopped, letting his eyes follow the direction of the sound. His hands froze in the air, separating from the vase. His lower lip dropped, trying to say something. But he couldn’t. There, at the edge of his spaghetti plate was shining a diamond ring.
‘Am I doing it right?’
John could not continue – the words were flowing through his mind, the tears were already strolling down his cheeks. But he couldn’t say even a single word.
‘You’re embarrassing me now, John. You’re crying. You were supposed to – I don’t know – react... otherwise,’ Sherlock touched his lower lip with his thumb.
John let out a small smirk, clearing out the ring from the oily spaghetti and putting it on the ring finger of his right hand.
‘It’s a good one, I have to say.’
‘Do you like it? Isn’t it inappropriate?’
John chuckled. Looking around, he finally stretched his hand at Sherlock’s, barely touching his fingertips.
‘It’s the most appropriate thing you’ve ever done, to be honest.’
‘Is this a positive response?’
‘More than a ‘yes’.’
‘What’s more than a ‘yes’, John? Don’t be ridiculous!’
‘I would try to like red roses from now on,’ then he whispered, ‘Just don’t ever say you love someone... the way you just did.’
‘But I love you,’ Sherlock blushed, puppy-eyed.
‘I know. And I love you too, Sherlock,’ John smiled, ‘But still... I prefer white flowers. Just saying.’