“So, Sherlock, is he queer, then?” The pub was noisy enough, and their booth--his and John Watson’s; it was a Friday at the end of a very long week--isolated enough, that Greg Lestrade just asked, flat out.
John took a slow, measured sip of his lager, and set it down before saying, “Well, that depends on what you mean.”
“Are you asking if he’s a poof, so you can add it to the list of names with ‘freak,’ yeah? In that case, the answer’s none of your fucking business, mate, and you can fuck right off with your own half of the check.”
“Come off it,” Greg said, and rolled his eyes. He took a sip of his own beer before he continued. “Bit curious, is all, since I’ve only seen him flirt with anyone to get information. Besides, I know about your sister, yeah? And have I been a prick about it?”
“Guess not,” John said, with a sheepish look. “And, truth, I don’t know either.”
“Oh, don’t you?”
“We’re not shagging, if that’s what you’re asking,” John said stiffly.
“If I wanted to know if you and Sherlock were shagging,” Greg said, “I’d have asked if you and Sherlock were shagging. And if you were, I’d laugh and buy you more beer because you’d need it, with all the whinging you do already.”
“Huh,” John said, and looked at Greg for a moment. “Brother?”
“Don’t have any,” Greg said, confused. “Two sisters, both happily married to solicitors.” He wrinkled his nose.
“Best friend from uni?”
“One of the bloody solicitors.” What was John getting at?
“Ah.” John leaned against the back of the booth. “Bit bent yourself, then?”
It shouldn’t have been a surprise; it wasn’t, really, not in the sock-you-in-the-gut sort of way that it should have been. How had John guessed? Not that it really mattered. He had a ready, pat answer; hell, he still put his wedding ring on some mornings out of habit. But no, he didn’t say, Ex-wife, you know; he didn’t say, why, you interested, making a joke out of it.
No; he said, “Bit, yeah. You?”
John gave him a thin smile. “If you’d asked six months ago, I’d have said definitely not. Now, well, maybe.”
Greg wanted to ask what had changed, but he could guess; Christ, his own self-identification changed every few years whether he wanted it to or not. Go to uni; discover women and men. Become a copper, meet Sheila; forget the men. Get divorced; forget the women, remember the men.
Maybe it was not being in the military anymore. Maybe it was Sherlock. Maybe it was someone else. Greg hoped it wasn’t someone else, because Sherlock would be unlivable; unless that someone was him--oh.
Well, that was inconvenient. He looked at his beer--stout, actually, and his fourth; he’d skipped the pub burger and chips, which might have been a mistake--and looked back at John.
Who was clearly waiting for him to say something. Greg winced inside and only just remembered not to let it show on his face. There were all sorts of things you were supposed to say to a mate who’d just come out of the closet to you, and he’d said nothing. The pause could be blamed on the alcohol, if only he could think of something to say that wasn’t completely inappropriate.
He couldn’t, so he just said, “Fancy another round, then?” As if it were no big deal. Which it wasn’t, not really, not in the general course of things.
John smiled--no, grinned. “Yeah, of course.”
Greg leaned forward, caught the server’s attention, and signaled for another two pints. It was a good night to get sloshed. Maybe he could forget about the revelation that his brain had just decided to cough up. Because, ugh, John grinning was doing odd things to his midsection and if he were more pissed he could just blame it on the alcohol.
Two or so pints and lots of rugby talk later, he said--no, slurred, really--“So, really? You and me but not him?”
John laughed. “He’s married to his work, he says.” With a shrug, he added, “I don’t know what that makes him. Does it matter?” He sounded altogether too sober.
“I suppose not,” Greg said, or tried to say, but he lost a couple syllables and shook his head. Everything started spinning; apparently he’d hit that point in the evening. “Bloody hell, I’m tanked.”
After that, he thought John said something about getting him home, and he distinctly remembered a cab ride--a very unpleasant cab ride--but things were definitely fuzzy, and only got fuzzier.
Greg woke up because he was sweating, and he’d even thrown off all the blankets sometime in his sleep. He sucked in a deep breath and rolled over--which was a bloody stupid idea, apparently. His head started throbbing overtime, and his heartbeat sped up as well, echoing in his ears. He tried breathing through his nose shallowly, but that just brought in the smell of beer-and-sweat-soaked cotton. Which--
--oh, right, he’d been out drinking with John again.
He cracked an eye open--4:34, and dark. Of course, he had no idea when he’d gotten home, or for that matter, how, so there was no telling how much sleep he’d gotten, but it wasn’t enough. Obviously.
Next to the clock was a glass of water, thank Christ, and a couple of paracetamol pills, which was odd, because he usually went for aspirin when he was hung over, but--right, he hadn’t set them out. John had, before he left.
Oh, God. He’d said--
Greg groaned, downed the water and the pills, and put the pillow over his head, trying to will himself back to sleep.
A few minutes later--well, more like an hour and a half; the clock read 6:08--he heard the telltale three-note chime his phone made when he’d received a text. He did not want to look at it, but he felt marginally less like hell than he had the first time he’d woken up, and there was no such thing as being off-duty for a DI. Picking up his phone, he held his hand over the screen to block the glow until he was sure it wouldn’t stab into his brain, and unlocked it.
One new text, from . . . Sherlock? Fuck me. Instead of some random demand, or a snarky comment about getting John drunk, it contained an internet link.
It was too early to deal with this shite, and it was Saturday morning anyway. He set the phone back on the bedside table, tipped the glass to get the last drops of water out of it, and put the pillow back over his head.
The third time he woke up, he felt almost human, and the sun was shining--well, no, he wouldn’t go that far, but it was considerably lighter and the clouds he could see through the window were sort of a cheerful shade of grey. He sat up, rubbed his face, and looked at the clock: 9:13. Okay. He could shower, and then see what the hell Sherlock wanted.
A half hour later, coffee brewing in the kitchenette, he unlocked his phone again, looked at the link, and sighed as he touched it with the pad of one finger. It opened up the browser on his phone and sent him to a subpage on Sherlock’s blog, with a tiny padlock indicating that it was a secure site. Across the top, it said, You might want to remember this later. In the middle was an embedded media player, about two minutes’ worth of material.
There was no other indication of what was on the page, so he turned his phone up and touched the ‘play’ button.
It was a bit difficult to understand; there was a significant amount of background noise, but about ten seconds in, he clearly heard John say, “Let’s get you home, Greg.”
Oh, great. Audio from last night. He continued listening anyway.
“...normally do this.”
“No, I know; I’ve never seen you this faced before, and God knows we’ve put away any number of pints. Long week, it was. Hell of a murder, and Sherlock was a tosser the whole time.”
His own voice was quiet, fading in and out of the background noise, but John’s was loud and clear, so it was probably a recording from John’s phone. Greg had no idea if that was even possible, but if it was, Sherlock could do it. The idea that Sherlock was possibly recording every interaction John had with anyone else was creepy as hell, but that was a matter for another time.
“Whoa, hey, Detective Inspector, no copping a feel when you’re drunk. I’m not saying never, but try again when you’re sober, yeah?” A pause, and Greg thought he could hear a sigh ever so faintly. “Although you’re not going to remember a damn word of this, are you. Oh well. Strange evening all ‘round, isn’t it. Up you go.”
He hit pause, and stared at the wall for a moment. Really, his brain wasn’t up to this yet, but he’d showered and shaved and dressed, and he was as ready as he was going to be today.
So. He clearly remembered the earlier part of the conversation, when he and John had traded mutual confidences about not quite being at the bottom of the Kinsey scale. When he was drunker, he’d made some sort of pass at John. John, assuming he would not be remembered, indicated that he would be amenable to that sort of pass, provided that informed consent was possible. Sherlock, who had apparently been using some sort of surveillance through John’s phone to record at least part of the evening, thought that that piece of information should be remembered.
There were probably dozens of alternate meanings to that set of facts that Sherlock would say Greg was too stupid to see, but the one staring him in the face was that John was a bit queer, possibly interested in a relationship with him or at least some mutual groping, and Sherlock either approved or wanted to watch the potential shitshow.
He had two possible responses: he could delete the link and forget everything--and probably be a little more circumspect about how much he drank in the future--or he could send John a text and ask him to dinner.
He hit the button to blank the screen and shoved his phone in his pocket and went to pour himself a cup of coffee.
There were so many reasons to forget everything: his job, John’s job, their friendship, Sherlock, Sherlock’s bloody brother . . .
Pulling the phone out, he thumbed it on, unlocked it, and typed in a couple of short sentences, hitting send before he could change his mind.
I remember. Dinner?