"That's a big bed," John said.
There were two upstairs bedrooms at 221B, and Sherlock had clearly taken possession of the smaller one overlooking the street. That one had a normal bed in it. The bed in this bedroom appeared to have some kind of glandular disorder.
"Well, it sort of came with the room when we bought the house," Mrs. Hudson said. "You could call it an antique."
"Yes, it's...ornate," John said carefully. It wasn't ugly, he supposed, just...big. And ornate.
"I'm sure you'll find ways to make good use of it," Mrs. Hudson told him, patting him on the arm.
John sat down on the bed, hand still instinctively moving to lean his cane up against the edge before remembering that his cane was suddenly no longer part of his life. He looked around the room.
"To make good use of this bed, I'd need to throw an orgy," he said, when Sherlock appeared in the doorway.
"Do you throw orgies often?" Sherlock asked.
"I haven't yet, but I feel certain I could learn. There's probably guides on the internet. Catering estimations and such," John told him. Sherlock cracked a smile.
Sherlock didn't really seem to use his bedroom much. When he slept at all, he mostly slept on the sofa. Which was just as well, since then John felt much less self-conscious about shouting in his sleep.
Sherlock had been watching him all afternoon.
By three months into their residence on Baker Street, John was used to Sherlock's short, all-seeing bursts of attention: the momentary focus, the head-to-toe sweep, and then the slight "I know everything about you" smile before he was ignored again. He'd given up being upset by it, because it was just something Sherlock did, like when John continually forgot to put the jam away after he made toast. Flatmates learned to put up with the little things like uncanny deductive powers and bad jam manners.
But now Sherlock had been watching him, covertly, for several hours, as he worked on his blog and made a few phone calls and cooked some pasta for dinner. It was incredibly strange to be scrutinised for hours at a time, somehow much stranger than finding a dead piglet wrapped in a dishtowel in the sink (another one of Sherlock's little projects).
When Sherlock's attention continued unabated through dinner, John leaned back in his chair and set his food aside.
"So?" he said. Sherlock ignored him. "Sherlock?"
"Mm?" Sherlock asked. He was eating in a single-minded sort of way, as if the food was just an intake of calories. Though he never ate on cases, so he must be between jobs right now.
"Deduced anything interesting?" John asked.
"About what?" Sherlock inquired.
"Well, you've been watching me all afternoon and eavesdropping on my telephone calls," John said.
"It's not eavesdropping if both parties are aware of it," Sherlock corrected. John rubbed his face.
"Deductions?" he prompted. Sherlock snorted.
"I've not deduced anything. I've not been deducing."
"What the hell have you been doing, then?"
"I'm going to regret asking this," John said, but asked it anyway. "What's the difference?"
Sherlock scowled. "You know the difference. Observation is merely the intake of information. Deduction is the analysis of information in concert with other acquired knowl -- " he broke off, because John was reciting the last bit silently along with him. "You're mocking me."
"I'm not, I swear I'm not," John said, grinning. "Just familiar with the definition. You should be proud, shows I've been paying attention."
"Any idiot can pay attention."
"Thank you," John replied, and stood, holding out his hand for Sherlock's pasta bowl. "So, you've been observing me all afternoon. Dare I ask why?" he called, as he carried the dishes to the sink.
"It's excellent practice. Observation is difficult; one wants to leap to conclusions and make assumptions."
"Do you think maybe you could observe something else?" John asked.
"Does it make you uncomfortable?"
John paused and thought about it. Curious, yes; uncomfortable, surprisingly not. He didn't think Sherlock was likely to glean more from him in an hour than he was in thirty seconds.
"Hm," Sherlock said with a smile, seeing his hesitance. Sherlock did have a habit of making you stop and rethink your basic assumptions.
"I hate you," John told him.
"I entertain you," Sherlock replied carelessly.
Christmas Eve dinner.
Sherlock had spent several weeks swearing that he wasn't going home for Christmas, but apparently Mycroft had some kind of blackmail on him, or maybe threatened to have him kidnapped, so he went anyway. John figured this would happen, since Sherlock never protested anything unless he was protesting too much. John made his own plans accordingly, though he felt they were rather sad ones: dinner with his sister and a group of her friends at some trendy nightspot was not, he felt, really very Christmas somehow. He was glad to see Harry and all, but he wasn't really part of her circle and none of her friends had much to say to him.
Finally, in desperation, he turned to Richard, sitting across from him, and asked, "So, how was New York?"
Richard blinked at him. "Fine, I guess," he said.
"Get many auditions?" John asked encouragingly. Richard looked at Harry, like perhaps something was wrong with John and she could explain it. "Though I think the musical scene's less competitive in the West End, eh?"
"Harry," Richard hissed.
"John, do you know Richard?" Harry asked. John looked at her blankly.
"Well, I know he's a friend of yours," he said slowly. "We only met this evening though. I'm sorry, did I say something wrong?" he asked Richard.
"Who told you I was in New York?" Richard asked.
John frowned. "Nobody told me," he said. "Was it a secret?"
"Well, no, but someone must've. Who's been gossiping about me?" Richard asked.
"John, you'd better explain yourself," Harry said. "What? I don't tell him about people," she added to Richard, who was glaring at her.
John looked around. Everyone was staring at him.
"Well," he said, and then frowned. "You had your fork in your right hand."
"Oh my God," Harry said. "This is one of your mate's mind tricks, isn't it?"
"One of -- no!" John protested.
"It is, isn't it. It's one of that Sherlock bloke's things."
"Who's Sherlock?" Richard asked.
"He's John's flatmate," Harry supplied, before John could answer. She put very clear airquotes around flatmate.
"What's my fork got to do with auditions?" Richard asked. John chewed his lip.
"Well, that's American, isn't it?" he asked. "Fork in the right hand. But there's no reason you ought to use an American method unless you've been in America recently; even then, not unless you were feeling insecure or wanting to impress someone. Your tattoo -- " he pointed to Richard's collar, under which a hint of ink was visible, "is a Greek mask. Probably an actor, then. Nice you didn't get the comedy-tragedy, bit overdone," he added. "Where do actors feel insecure? Auditions. Where do you go to audition in America? New York or Los Angeles. No tan says New York. I just guessed musical theatre," he added, apologetically. "You ordered no dairy in your food, which says you've been doing vocal training, but you had a latte when you walked in, which means I guess you're not as careful about it in London as you would be in New York."
There was a long, incredibly awkward silence around the table.
"Sorry," John offered.
"Are you some kind of savant?" one of Harry's other friends asked.
"Freak," Harry muttered affectionately.
"Excuse me," said a deep voice behind him. John leaned backwards and looked into the upside-down face of Sherlock Holmes, looming over the back of his chair.
"Hi," he said. He wondered, for a second, if his little act of deduction had summoned Sherlock like some kind of medieval demon. He listened for the flap of leathery wings.
"Have you eaten?" Sherlock asked.
"I am in the process of soon-to-be having eaten," John replied. Sherlock got a faint grimace on his face, as he always did when John messed around with the English language. Sometimes John did it just to annoy him.
"John, would you care to introduce us?" Harry prompted. Several of the men around the table were eyeing Sherlock speculatively.
"This is Sherlock. Sherlock, this is Harry and Harry's...everyone," John said, still staring up backwards.
"Pleasure," Sherlock bit out.
"So you're the flatmate," Harry said, scooting around to regard him more thoroughly. "Have a seat, there's plenty of room. John, why didn't you bring him along?"
"Sherlock was going to a family dinner," John told her, looking down.
"That was cancelled," Sherlock replied. "No time to sit, thank you. Back with Clara, I see."
There was this, at least: nobody was staring at John anymore. Everyone was staring at Harry, who sputtered.
"Why would you say that?" she asked. John, deciding that he really didn't need Harry and Sherlock trying to scratch each others' eyes out, interrupted.
"Sherlock, is there a reason you somehow discovered where I was having dinner and showed up to crash us? Other than to cross-examine my sister on Christmas Eve?" John asked.
"Yes," Sherlock replied.
"Wait, I want to know -- " Harry began.
"John?" Sherlock prompted. "Will you have finished eating at any point in the near future?"
"Yeah, okay," John sighed, taking his napkin off his lap and setting it next to his mostly-empty plate. He bent over to kiss Harry's cheek. She was still gaping at Sherlock. "I'll owe you for dinner, hm? Very nice meeting you all," he said, waving around the table. "Richard, good luck with your theatre career."
"Thanks," Richard said faintly.
Outside the restaurant, John turned to Sherlock, sidling along as they walked. "So?"
"So?" Sherlock asked.
"What's on? Serial murders? Mysterious smothering? Impossible locked-door theft?" John asked. Sherlock frowned at him. "We're on a case, right? That's why you came and got me?"
"...no," Sherlock replied. John stopped, then started walking again when Sherlock didn't wait for him.
"Please," Sherlock said. "As if you were enjoying insipid conversation and the condescension of your sister? I should be feeling rather rescued if I were you. Nobody rescued me from Mycroft's tender mercies. I had to rescue myself with an urgent faked telephone call from Lestrade."
"Mycroft bought that?" John asked.
"No, but our mother did," Sherlock replied.
"Family dinner getting a bit too familial?" John asked.
"Something like that."
"Were you baiting Harry back there, about Clara?" John asked.
"What possible reason could I have for baiting your sister?" Sherlock replied. "Why, are you unhappy about it?"
John slowed his pace just slightly, and felt unaccountably pleased when Sherlock slowed to match. "Well. I don't know," he admitted. "I'm very fond of Clara, but I'm not sure Harry's good for her. That's a terrible thing to say about one's own sister, I suppose."
"I've said worse about Mycroft."
"Yeah, but Mycroft's your archnemesis," John teased.
"Life's more interesting when one escalates sibling rivalry to the level of a minor land war," Sherlock said. "The deduction was simple: your sister wasn't drinking, which I imagine is one of those tedious conditions of reunited love, and she had an expensive bracelet on, but it didn't match her clothing. Obviously a gift; not something a new lover gives for Christmas. Clara's absence suggests they're still tentative, not willing to be seen in public. Bit of a shot in the dark but it did get a reaction. Much like you did with that actor -- that was very good, though you missed some essential points about his recent food poisoning and his girlfriend's pregnancy."
John didn't really have a response for that. He was still turning over Harry and Clara. He'd like to have Clara back in Harry's life. She was good for her. That was a good Christmas present, Clara taking Harry back.
They passed through the park, or rather above it, across the overpass; everywhere was quiet and empty at this time and on this kind of night. John, enjoying the cool snap of the air after the hot restaurant, stopped to lean against the railing and look down into the park.
"Your sister thinks we're sleeping together," Sherlock said, apropos of nothing, hitching a hip against the rail.
"I know," John sighed. "It's fairly common. I've given up protesting."
"I don't see why you ever did in the first place."
John turned around, leaning on the railing with his elbows. "Because someday I'd like to have sex again."
"And the likelihood of a woman being interested in a man as a potential bed partner drops off sharply if she thinks he's sleeping with his male flatmate!"
"Infidelity is quite common," Sherlock pointed out. "Though a better solution seems to be to simply have sex with men."
"It's not that easy," John told him.
"Well, for a start, I'm not attracted to men."
"Patently untrue," Sherlock announced.
"Excuse me, I think I'd know if I were gay," John retorted.
"Perhaps you would, but you seem unaware you're bisexual, so I doubt it."
"I am not -- !" John looked at him, annoyed.
"It's not my fault you've allowed your fear of social disapproval to force you to sublimate half your sexuality."
"Fine," John snapped. "You've deduced something. Wrongly. How'd you do it?"
"I've made an extensive study of, among other things, your pupil dilation factors and pulse rates," Sherlock told him. "Your arousal reactions are almost identical for men as for women, given the sample field is composed of strangers. Among people you're familiar with it varies, which is only to be expected, but it's still there."
John stared at him, and then laughed. "Are you saying you've been gazing into my eyes?"
"Yes," Sherlock said.
"You're having me on."
"I never joke about deduction," Sherlock told him. They were silent for a while; John was turning to him to announce that he was utterly wrong when Sherlock wrapped a long-fingered hand around the back of his neck, held him there in a very solid grip, and kissed him.
John kissed back for a moment, because it seemed the polite thing to do, and then his higher reasoning kicked in and he put both hands on Sherlock's chest, pushing him away gently. Sherlock looked unperturbed -- analytical -- as if he were studying the reaction. John wondered if his pupils were dilated. Sherlock's were.
"Even if I were theoretically bisexual, and I'm not saying I am, what on Earth makes you think I want to test that thesis in public, on Christmas Eve?" John asked.
"With me," Sherlock replied.
"The third part of that statement should have been with me," Sherlock told him. "And yes, your pupils are dilated, though that could be partially attributable to the low lighting."
"I..." John couldn't think of an intelligent reply. "I'm going home," he said, turning and walking away, scanning the road for a cab.
"The likelihood of finding a cab on Christmas Eve is fast approaching nil," Sherlock observed, following him.
"So was the likelihood of you kissing me in the middle of the pavement, and yet," John retorted, waving an arm at what proved to be a private car. "Damn!"
Sherlock, god damn his long legs, caught up quickly. They walked in silence for a while before John inhaled.
"You said you were married to your work," John told him.
"You are a part of my work, now," Sherlock replied calmly.
John laughed, because what the hell else could he do? "So we're married."
"We cohabitate and share expenses; most of our copious free time is spent together. Yes, I should say we're only lacking the necessary documentation. And of course the sex, though quite a lot of rubbish television seems predicated on the idea that absence of sex is equally indicative of marriage."
"Was that a joke?" John asked.
"Why, was it funny?" Sherlock asked, but he grinned.
"All that dilation stuff is rubbish anyway," John said. "Do you know the last time I had sex? I probably get wide-eyed looking at well-designed cutlery."
"And yet when offered a solution..." Sherlock spread his hands.
"I'm not going to shag you, Sherlock," John said. Sherlock circled around, walking backwards, facing him; it took John a second to realise he was slowing his pace, slowing them down, stopping them. They stood there for a while, staring at each other.
"Why not?" Sherlock asked quietly.
"Because I'm not into men," John answered.
"Posit the thesis that you are. Why not?" Sherlock cocked his head. "I'm not unattractive. You know I'm extremely detail-oriented. You obviously enjoy my company, or you wouldn't put up with the head in the fridge."
"Yes really, when are you going to get rid of that?" John asked.
"You are so very easily distracted," Sherlock sighed. "Is it nice, being able to jump the tracks whenever you feel like it?"
"Heads in fridges and being called stupid definitely turn me on," John told him. Sherlock's lips quirked.
"To return to the point," he said.
John took a deep breath, because obviously they weren't going to be able to go home until he entertained Sherlock's madness. "If I fancied men, yes, fine, you would be both attractive and convenient."
"And you're basing your lack of attraction on?"
"A lifetime's worth of being me," John told him.
"Subjective at best. You also based your inability to walk without assistance on a lifetime's experience in your body, and look where that got you," Sherlock pointed out. "One sharp shock to the system, and see how the world has changed."
John dropped his face, rubbing it with one hand. "You are absolutely impossible."
"So everyone keeps telling me. It's bizarre how I go on existing despite that, isn't it?" Sherlock said, rare humour in his voice. "John."
John looked up at him. Very carefully, Sherlock stepped up into his personal space. He held up his hand, fingers spread, and then touched John's neck again, slow enough that he could easily pull away.
For some mad, completely mad, totally and utterly mad reason, John didn't. Sherlock held him there and his face was pale and narrow and -- kissing him. He was kissing Sherlock Holmes with his eyes open. He closed them and opened his mouth instead.
Sherlock hummed into it, triumphant, such a bastard, like seducing him was something you could win at, like licking across John's tongue was a trophy. John lifted his hands and caught the lapels of Sherlock's coat and they stumbled backwards into a pillar at the edge of the overpass, Sherlock's hand cradling the back of his head (when had that happened?) to keep it from bumping the wall. Sherlock's thigh was between his legs, pinning him and telling Sherlock Holmes more about John's new discovery of his apparent bisexuality than dilated pupils ever could.
"Oi! You lot there!" someone called, and Sherlock leaned back and John could breathe again, though that wasn't much use since he was sure if he tried to walk he'd fall over. Sherlock was looking up at a policeman leaning out of a patrol car as it eased down the road. "Don't make me pull you in for public indecen -- " the man began, and then his eyes widened. "Mr. Holmes!"
"Hallo, Willis," Sherlock replied, as the car drew alongside them and stopped, idling. Willis, Willis...yes, John had met him once, he'd helped collar a thief Sherlock had caught.
"Sorry, Mr. Holmes, didn't know it was you," Willis said, looking far less authoritarian now. "Dr. Watson, good to see you, sir."
"Hi," John said. Sherlock's hand was still cradling his head.
"Just a bit of Christmas cheer," Sherlock announced, with one of his impersonating-a-normal-human smiles. His thigh shifted almost imperceptibly, and John fought back a whimper.
"Yes, well," Willis said, beaming at them both. "I wouldn't want to gatecrash, Mr. Holmes, but we do have our jobs to do. You should get your young man indoors, there's more cheer to be had there," he added, and gave them both a wink. "Move along and we'll say no more about it."
"Just so," Sherlock told him, and released John's head as the car pulled away. It thumped back against the pillar gently.
"Lestrade's going to hear about this," John pointed out.
"Lestrade thinks we've been shagging for months," Sherlock replied.
"Of course he does." John straightened, found he could walk after all, and started for home again, Sherlock at his side. "Is there anyone we know who doesn't think we're shagging?"
"Mycroft called the idea absurd," Sherlock told him. John glanced at him. "My mother was inquiring about you."
"Please, please tell me what we just did wasn't to get back at your brother for some snipe over Christmas dinner," John said.
"Either way, you get to make use of the ridiculously giant bed you have," Sherlock remarked.
"I don't want to shag you to prove a point to your brother."
"But you are now willing to entertain the concept of shagging me in a general sense?"
John shoved his hands in his pockets. "Well. Yes. In a general sense. I've never, you know, before, with a man, but as you point out that makes my experiences rather subjective."
Sherlock's smile was wide and honest this time, no fakery about it. "Whatever else may be said about you, John, it's undeniable that you have an open mind about my theories."
Mrs. Hudson was either out or indulging in her herbal soothers by the time they reached 221; she was nowhere in evidence, at least, and John was secretly relieved. Sherlock climbed the stairs ahead of him, not bothering to stop at the first floor, going straight to John's bedroom. When John stepped through the door Sherlock kissed him again.
Third kiss; little more brain left this time in the surge of unexpected desire. Sherlock kissed like he'd read about it in a book somewhere, but a very thorough and detailed book that had diagrams and step-by-step instructions. It wasn't clinical, precisely, but there was a certain am I doing this right tension that spoke of educated inexperience.
Also he was really tall. Just -- stupidly tall. He'd probably grown that way on purpose to annoy people.
John tipped his head back further to get a better angle, get more control, and Sherlock made a frustrated little noise, the same tone of voice he used when he'd missed something on a case. It shouldn't be hot, it should absolutely not be skin-prickling hot, but getting the jump on Sherlock didn't happen very often.
"I'm suddenly liking this thesis," John said around the kiss, as Sherlock's jacket thumped to the floor.
"I'll take you through the proofs later," Sherlock replied.
"Did you do charts?" John asked, working his way down to Sherlock's jaw, kissing along the line of it. Silence; he pulled back. "Oh my God, you did. You did charts. You have a lab book on my sexuality."
"Are you truly shocked?" Sherlock asked, tugging John's jumper up his chest, deft fingers pulling it around his shoulders. John considered it in the brief muffled second it took to get it over his head.
"No," John admitted. "You're not going to publish a paper on it or anything, though, right?"
"With a sample population of one?" Sherlock looked offended, but he was also unbuttoning John's shirt, so he couldn't be too annoyed. "Don't be ridiculous."
"Yes, I'm obviously the ridiculous one," John answered, shrugging out of the shirt and only then realising that Sherlock's hands were still there -- on his skin now, just below his ribcage, fingers spread wide. He was looking at the scar on John's shoulder -- nasty, long, and narrow, extending almost halfway down his arm.
"I thought you were shot," he said.
"I was," John replied.
"That's not a bullet wound. I know bullet wound scars."
"No, that's a bit of DIY," John agreed. Sherlock looked at him. "Bullet had to come out. Nobody else had any medical experience. They shot me up with local, and I dug the bugger out in the middle of a firefight with a sterilised boot knife. It ricocheted off my scapula, took a bit of rummaging to find. Then I got on with almost dying."
"Hm." Sherlock seemed to be considering this, filing it away.
"Does it offend you?" John asked, honestly curious. Very few people saw the scar. He had no idea what anyone would or ought to think of it. He didn't know what he thought of it. Just a bit of DIY.
"Offend? No," Sherlock seemed as puzzled as he was. "It's anomalous," he added, as if that explained things, and then he pulled his own shirt off over his head, pressing John back into the wall, skin to skin.
"You're anomalous," John replied.
"In every possible way," Sherlock agreed, hands on his hips now, one sliding around to the small of his back. John decided subtlety was for civilians, and ran his hand down Sherlock's trousers instead, cupping his erection through them. Sherlock huffed against his cheek, but his hips pushed up into the touch, and his hand slid down sharply, under John's waistband, curling around his arse. For a few minutes they seemed to be in some kind of erotic shoving match, like a football scrum gone awry, until Sherlock pulled away.
"You're short," he said.
"I'm not," John retorted. "You're just a giraffe."
"Meaningless likening," Sherlock waved it off. "The wall is insufficient for this kind of thing."
"Your dirty talk needs some serious work," John told him, but Sherlock was already stepping out of his trousers, stripping down, falling back onto the enormous bed. Sprawling, that was what he was doing, he was sprawling all over John's bed. Sherlock didn't use furniture the way other people used furniture.
John sat on the edge of the bed, unbuckling his belt, sweeping Sherlock head to foot. No scars; no visible ribs he sometimes imagined and fretted about, either. Just a slim, pale body, and a pair of blue eyes watching him. Not the kind of body he was used to, but then his own body didn't seem to particularly care at the moment.
"I'm new at this," John warned, sliding out of his trousers cautiously. Sherlock raised a hand and, shockingly, rubbed his knuckles against John's arm. A -- a caress. Unexpected and bizarre from him of all people.
"So am I," he said. "But we both seem to be quick studies so I'm sure we'll get on all right."
John barked a laugh and leaned over, kissing him, elbows on either side of his shoulders. Sherlock shifted, did something with his leg, and John found himself flipped just enough that he was straddling him now, naked and sitting on top of Sherlock Holmes's thighs. He ran a hand down Sherlock's hip, studying his face (calm, anticipatory, the way he got just before he said something brilliant) and grasped his cock -- experimental, mostly, just to see what he'd do.
John leaned forward, bracing himself on his left arm, right hand working slowly; Sherlock got up on one elbow to meet him halfway and John felt those cool, thin fingers around his own cock. His hips jerked.
"Is this what you'd like, John?" Sherlock asked. John pressed their foreheads together.
"It's what I can handle, just now," he said.
"Hmm," Sherlock said, possibly an agreement or possibly a reaction to John's thumb brushing over sensitive skin. He mirrored the movement with his own hand and John gasped. "Effective?"
"Very," John groaned, closing his eyes as Sherlock began to stroke him in earnest, sometimes echoing what John was doing, sometimes trying something new (probably experimenting, possibly taking mental notes, oh god Sherlock please highlight that mental note right there oh -- )
John's left arm buckled sharply, without warning, and he almost fell. Sherlock surged up and caught him around the waist, and John wrapped his trembling arm over his shoulders, leaning back so Sherlock could sit upright and not stop touching him. His left hand wouldn't stop shaking but that hardly mattered -- Sherlock had him secure and was making soft pleased noises whenever he wasn't saying John's name.
Sherlock's fingers spasmed, tightened, and his breath came short; John kissed him to muffle the low-pitched noise Sherlock made as he came, and maybe a little bit so that they'd be kissing when John came, too, thrusting erratically into Sherlock's twitching hand.
He clung on, because if he didn't he'd lose his balance; his thighs were starting to hurt, but Sherlock seemed to need a moment and most of his weight was resting on Sherlock, waiting for him to move.
Finally, carefully, Sherlock let go of his waist and eased him down, and John fell into the blankets. Sherlock lay back and then rolled onto his side, eyes wide -- for once, rather stunned.
"You caught me," John said, still startled at the speed with which Sherlock had moved to keep him from falling.
"I anticipated it," Sherlock told him. His voice was subdued, all the harsh edges of it worn away.
"You have nerve damage, you imbecile," Sherlock said. Ah yes; that was more like it. "Clearly the idiots who treated you overlooked the actual injury in favour of a psychosomatic limp, and you're in denial. I knew your arm wouldn't last."
He sounded angry, but John realised the anger wasn't at him (despite the name-calling). He was angry at some faceless military doctor, back in John's recent past. He was angry for John, angry that someone had hurt him.
John knew it must be written all over his face, this revelation, because Sherlock closed his eyes for a second. "Is it really so terribly difficult to believe I care about you, John?"
John rolled onto his back. "Actually, it is."
"Oh. Good, then it's not just me." Sherlock sounded relieved.
John laughed. "You find it difficult to believe you care about me?"
"Well, it's rare," Sherlock told him. "As a rule I don't, generally. Care about people."
John mulled this over. "But you know I care about you, right? God help me."
"Yes, that was fairly obvious."
"Ah right. The lab book," John nodded.
"It's a flattering portrait, if you like that sort of thing. Moral, disciplined, courageous, capable of unusual intellectual acuity when pushed -- "
"Bisexual, fancies his flatmate."
Sherlock chuckled, a rare sound. "Just imagine what your sister will say."
"Imagine what your brother will say," John replied, laughing. "Let's go round for New Year's, I'll snog you in front of him."
"You like annoying him nearly as much as I do. Point in your favour."
John turned his head. Sherlock was still looking at him, observing him. Not deducing, just observing. Taking in information.
"I sometimes scream in my sleep," John heard himself say, before he even knew he was going to say it.
"Yes, I've heard you," Sherlock replied.
"Would that bother you?"
"Are you inviting me to stay in your bed?"
"Yeah," John said. "Yes, I am. If you like. After we've cleaned up a bit, anyhow."
"Then it doesn't bother me," Sherlock told him.
"Well, if it isn't love's young dream," Lestrade said, the next time he saw them. "I heard you two got caught out on Christmas, necking in the park."
"Can you think of a more preferable time to 'neck' than Christmas?" Sherlock asked, sweeping past him, heading for the body. Lestrade glanced at John, who shrugged.
"He's very focused," he said vaguely.
"Lucky you, then," Lestrade replied. "Sherlock, don't roll it -- don't -- !" he yelled, catching sight of Sherlock, who was indeed rolling the body over.
"There's evidence here!" Sherlock yelled back.
"Can't you do something about him?" Lestrade asked John, as they hurried to where Sherlock was probing the victim's nostrils.
"If I could, I wouldn't be in this situation," John told him.
"I see your point. You know you are completely insane, though, right?" Lestrade added, talking to John but kicking gently at Sherlock's foot. "Hey, crime-scene disturber."
"He was on his back to begin with, someone rolled him over to hide his face, now shut up and stop bothering John," Sherlock retorted. He leaned back, holding up a small blue gemstone in a pair of tweezers, apparently extracted from the corpse's nose.
"Yeah," John sighed, in response to Lestrade's see what I mean? gesture. "I know."