It was an ordinary Tuesday afternoon when Sherlock realised he was in love with John.
They were settled in their armchairs in the living room with a cup of tea, both of them quietly reading while rain pattered on the windows. John made a quiet hum at something in his book, and Sherlock glanced up from Beekeeper’s Quarterly in time to watch him take a slow sip of tea and then set the mug down again without looking away from the page.
It was nothing he hadn’t seen a thousand times before, but for some reason this time it flicked a switch inside him that made him realise I love this man. It was a golden flood of a revelation, spreading through his limbs until it filled him up with the truth of it.
“Oh,” he breathed out.
John glanced up. “Please tell me you haven’t realised we need to go out in the rain.”
“No,” said Sherlock. Should he tell John? That was what you were meant to do, wasn’t it, make a declaration?
He cleared his throat. “John, I’ve just realised I love you.”
John stared at him, squinting through his reading glasses. “What?” he asked. There was a flat edge to his voice.
“I said I love you,” Sherlock repeated.
“No,” said John. “That’s not what you said. Repeat it exactly.”
Sherlock frowned. Was this really a standard response to an announcement of this sort? “John, I’ve just realised I love you,” he dutifully repeated.
John nodded his head sharply. “Yeah,” he said. “That. ‘I’ve just realised’. Sherlock, how can you-” He stopped and took the kind of deep breath that meant he was on the verge of an angry outburst. “Sherlock, I am eighty-seven years old. We’ve been living together for fifty-one years, and sharing a bed for forty-six! Twenty-four years ago, we retired together to this cottage where I have put up with your boredom and your bees and your bloody annoying habit of setting fire to the shed! You do remember all this, right? You haven’t gone so senile you’ve forgotten?”
“I remember,” said Sherlock. “You seem angry,” he observed. “Did I get the declaration wrong, somehow?”
John groaned with frustration. “If it didn’t take me five minutes to stand up these days, I’d come over there and beat you with my cane.”
Sherlock considered that. John was not having the reaction he would have expected. What reason could there be for that? “Is it that you don’t return my feelings?” he asked, feeling unaccountably sad at the thought.
John actually cried out with anger, and then picked up his glasses case and threw it at Sherlock. Sherlock’s reflexes were too slow to intercept it and so it bounced off his head with a dull thud.
“You absolute, utter imbecile!” exclaimed John. “Of course I bloody love you! Of course you love me! I knew that over forty bloody years ago! How the hell are you meant to be the sodding genius here?!”
Sherlock ignored all the swearing and anger with skill borne of long practice and heard only the important bit. They loved each other. He beamed at John with happiness.
John made a defeated noise and put his head in his hands.