John Watson was different and it was driving Sherlock crazy. He sat across from the shorter man, keeping one eye on the world outside the restaurant and one eye on John, who was scanning the menu eagerly. At least in this way John was proving to be just like everyone else, with his need for things like food and rest, and that was comforting. He shifted in his seat and ignored the wink Angelo sent his way when he came to take John's order.
The silence dragged on. Sherlock drummed his fingers on the table. John hadn't tried to touch him yet, and that too, was surprising. Even the people who claimed to hate him, like Donovan, had gone out of their way to brush against him in some way just to see what would happen. Even those who already had soul mates of their own generally couldn't resist. Yet John had kept his distance, as though he understood Sherlock's unspoken desire for no contact.
"So..." John said at last, apparently feeling the need to break the silence. Another way he was normal. Surprisingly, Sherlock didn't find it as annoying as usual. "You don't have a soul mate."
Sherlock gave him a quick look. "I believe we already established that and I do hate repeating myself."
John smiled awkwardly. "So you're bondless... like me."
Sherlock tensed. It wasn't unheard of for the few who never found their soul mates to seek solace in each other. The thought wasn't appealing at all. "John, while I'm flattered, I think you should know I consider myself married to my work..."
"No!" John said hastily, shaking his head. "No, God, it's just - it's refreshing to be with someone who isn't pressing me to be finding my soul mate. That's all I ever hear from just... everyone." He fiddled with his fork, expression darkening. "No one ever stops to think that maybe I don't want to share everything."
Pale blue eyes bordering on stormy grey flicked over the other man, taking in everything. Finally, Sherlock looked away. The deductions were there, at the tip of his tongue, just waiting to spill out into the air between them. But he held them back. Even he could tell that, much as John seemed to like listening to him, John wouldn't have appreciated them at the moment. And when he said nothing, John kept talking.
"I mean, sure it sounds great when you're younger, but I've seen some mates that were destroying each other." The bitterness in his voice told Sherlock that he was referring to his sister and her partner. Sherlock had already known that the split between Harry and Clara was less than amicable, but apparently it was worse than he had expected. Interesting.
"My brother bonded late in his life. He has since become insufferable," Sherlock said. Then he paused, surprised at himself. He rarely spoke of Mycroft to anyone, usually preferring to forget that he existed.
John looked surprised as well. "You have a brother?"
John smiled, hearing the undertones of a younger sibling all too easily. "There's nothing wrong with not having a soul mate," he said. "It's fine."
Sherlock frowned. "I know that."
The waiter appeared, bringing John's meal and a cup of tea for Sherlock. John thanked her and dug into his meal. Sherlock glanced at him occasionally. Once or twice, John rested his arm on the table between them, and he was puzzled by the urge that occasionally went through him, the desire that swept through him to reach out and touch John's hand. He was confident that nothing would happen, but still. He had never actively wanted to touch anyone before. It had always been the other way around.
He looked at John's hand.
His own fingers twitched.
And then, out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of the cab pulling up outside the building. All thoughts of wanting to touch John fled his mind immediately as he leapt up and threw himself into the case again.
The case, as they so often do, came together in a smooth, natural click of triumph. One final piece of the puzzle was the key, although it revealed itself in a different way than normal when the killer showed up on his doorstep. By the time they reached the college, Sherlock had deducted everything he needed to know about the man. Boring, really. Closely bonded soul mates usually died within days or weeks of each other and the death of his soul mate was causing the cabbie's body to fail. Boring, boring, boring.
What was really quite a bit less boring was the single expert gun shot that took the cabbie down when the pill was seconds from Sherlock's mouth. He sat on the back of the emergency vehicle, ignoring the hovering paramedics, fingers steepled, mind racing. The pill had been an interesting way to end the case and possibly his life, but this... this was worth living for.
"Sherlock." Lestrade was standing next to him, eyes wide as he openly scanned the younger man for any signs of damage. He'd become a shade more protective since bonding with Mycroft. It was annoying. "Are you alright?"
"Why don't you ask them?" Sherlock indicated the paramedics with a jerk of his head.
"Because I know you'd lie to them even if you were bleeding all over the place," Lestrade replied, relaxing. His hand made an unconscious twitch in the direction of his pocket and Sherlock's eyes narrowed, knowing that Lestrade was dying to text his brother. He huffed and stood up.
"You might as well text him. Though I should tell you he likely already knows all is well," Sherlock muttered.
Lestrade just sighed and folded his arms. "Let's hear it."
Sherlock arched an eyebrow.
"Your deductions, Sherlock. I know that look. You must have something."
His mouth began moving automatically, the information spilling from his lips as fast as possible while his mind leapt ahead. He found himself looking at John and, for once, his mind froze. The words trailed off into an awkward silence. It took Lestrade a full minute to catch up (even after years of practice, he couldn't write as fast as Sherlock could deduce), and when he did, he looked up to find Sherlock staring blankly at his flatmate.
"Nothing," Sherlock said abruptly. "Forget it. There's nothing to go on. I was wrong."
"Nothing?" Lestrade echoed, amazed.
"Don't make me repeat myself, Lestrade, really." He took off without further word, making his way through the crowd towards John.
Lestrade watched him go, watched him walk up to John and stand close. Closer than Sherlock stood to anyone, even Lestrade or Mycroft. A slow smile worked its way across Lestrade's face and he chuckled softly as he tore the page out of his book and crumpled it up. Sherlock and John could deny it all they wanted, but the connection between them was nearly visible, practically tangible, and it was only a matter of time. He pulled out his cell phone and sent a quick text before he went off to scold the crime scene boys.
Think Sherlock has finally found the winner. - GL
"What did you do with the gun?" Sherlock asked flatly the second he got to John. Despite his calm appearance, his heart was pounding harder than it had when the pill was inches from his lips. No one had ever killed for him because they wanted to. It was a novel concept. It was... exciting.
John was looking at him carefully, head tilted slightly. "Hidden," he replied, a small smile quirking his lips. "You would've swallowed it. The pill, I mean."
"I would not. Why would you think that?"
"Because you're an idiot."
The lightning fast response made Sherlock smirk. There weren't many people who could get away with calling him an idiot. "Chinese?"
Sherlock was vaguely aware of the black car pulling up to the crime scene as he and John walked away and couldn't help noticing that Lestrade walked over to it rather quickly and greeted the man who got out in a way that made him want to gag. He turned away and became entirely focused on John, who was striding along beside him as confidently as though he belonged there.
Sherlock was beginning to wonder if maybe he did.
And starting to worry about what would happen if he didn't.