In the end, John is exactly right. Irene Adler is Sherlock’s best hope of ever having a fulfilling relationship.
Knees creaking, John lowers himself into his chair with a sigh of relief. The fire is lit and the new curtains are drawn. He can’t believe It has only been eleven weeks since John and Rosie moved into Baker Street. It already feels like home again, wrapping John in that familiar, comforting cocoon he has always felt there. He had missed this chair. He watches Sherlock opposite him, long fingers animatedly flicking and tapping at his phone, and contemplates making tea.
“All settled?” Sherlock asks, not looking up.
“Yeah. For the time being anyway. Think she’s worn herself - “
John raises an eyebrow at the erotic text alert, then frowns as Sherlock ignores it and places the phone face down on his thigh.
“Aren’t you going to answer that?”
“I told you, I try not to. Not always successfully, she can be - “ he considers his words, “persistent.”
John snorts in amusement. “Yeah, well, she’s a woman who knows what she wants. And what she wants, mate, is you .”
As if to reinforce his point, the phone lights up and sighs again.
“Go on, answer her. I meant exactly what I said. We all have to grab our chances where we can and a relationship would be good for you.”
“Whilst I believe you have grounds for your assertion, John, may I, yet again, remind you I have my reasons for not wishing to -”
Sherlock is interrupted once more by the erotic groan and he rolls his eyes. He fervently wishes Irene would stop. She has maintained her campaign of attrition for five years now and Sherlock has moved from being intrigued by it, through amusement and now just finds it annoying and pointless. As he has repeatedly told her. He would also much prefer not to have this conversation with John.
“Tea?” Sherlock starts to rise from his chair, the offending phone sliding off his leg onto the chair.
“Sherlock, don’t do that. Don’t try to distract me. We agreed, no more secrets; you, me and Mycroft.”
Sherlock sinks back into his chair with a sigh and grimaces. Yes, he had agreed to the no-secret-keeping thing. Mostly, though, he had meant Mycroft not keeping secrets from him. There are a few things he would much prefer to keep to himself and his conversations with Irene absolutely fall into that category.
“Why don’t you want to answer her? She likes you, you like her. What’s the problem? Take a chance, Sherlock. That’s what we all have to do. None of us know if it will work out but we take a leap of faith in the hope that, at the very least, we might have a bit of fun. Anything else is a bonus.”
Sherlock presses his lips together and studies John through his lashes. He is rapidly losing patience with this conversation. How is he ever going to be able to explain this? How is he going to persuade John to let the matter drop? This is fruitless and becoming hurtful. Sherlock is derailed slightly by the fact that he has allowed himself to acknowledge this fact. The events of the last few months really have taken their toll on him.
“As always, John, you see, but you do not observe.” Sherlock’s hurt takes refuge in insult and sharpness.
John hesitates for just a fraction of a second. Losing Mary has changed him; life is too damn short and cruel. Not speaking the truth has done nothing but bring him, them , pain and now he has the courage to do exactly that, safe in the acceptance there is nothing he can do to drive Sherlock away. John accepts his own chances of love have passed but he knows he can push Sherlock. He needs Sherlock to be happy, to have love. God knows, the man deserves it.
John refuses to stand by and allow Sherlock to deny his heart again. For the first time ever, they can talk about this and John is determined not to let this opportunity pass.
“What I observe , Sherlock Holmes, is a man brave enough to throw himself off a roof but too scared to risk opening his heart to someone who cares for him.” John snipes back.
If only he knew. Sherlock makes a show of ignoring John and storms into the kitchen. Angrily filling the kettle, he closes his eyes and rests his forehead on the kitchen cupboard. This is not going well.
Grabbing his chance, John stretches over and takes up the phone from Sherlock’s chair. “Right, then. If you won’t answer her, I will.”
Sherlock freezes. Shit. What had her last message been? He is evaluating several different courses of action ranging from grabbing his Belstaff and leaving, to yelling at John in the hope of waking Rosie, when John begins to read out the latest text.
Hope PB and his DBoR are enjoying a cosy night in
John frowns, trying to make sense of the message. When nothing leaps to mind, he scrolls back to the previous two texts. The first reads:
All settled back at home. Exhausting flight
Let’s have lunch. Heard from Kate you’ve made progress ❤
John is stumped. He had been expecting suggestive comments, lewd plans, maybe even a revealing photo or two. Not travel updates.
“What does she mean, you’ve made progress? And what the hell do PB and DBoR mean? And who is Kate?”
Tea unmade, Sherlock charges back into the living room and snatches his phone.
“For God’s sake, John, you idiot. You’ve met Kate. Irene doesn’t care for me. Well, not in the way you’re suggesting. She’s gay , remember? She told you so herself. Irene Adler is in a long-term, committed relationship. With. A. Woman. With Kate. She does not want to have sexual relations with me!”
Deflated, John slumps back in his chair. Confusion gives way to embarrassment. He should never have invaded Sherlock’s privacy like that. For five years he has been listening to that bloody sound; that suggestive, sexy, dammit down right rude, text alert and leapt to conclusions. Wrong ones, apparently. He hated that sound. It made him-, made him- , what exactly? Shocked? No. Offended? No. Jealous? Ummmm. Best not to poke around too much in that one.
“So you are just, what? Friends?”
“Yes, John. Just friends.”
“Then why that bloody sound?”
Sherlock looks sheepish. “She programmed my phone.” He waves a hand dismissively.
“Well, why didn’t you unprogramme it? Oh, wait.” John gives a tight smile. “You tried.”
“It’s locked in. It’s her idea of a joke. Apparently, she ‘knows a man and knows what he likes’. He taught her how to do it. Irrelevant and childish.”
“What do PB and DBoR mean?”
“I gathered that, genius. For what?”
Sherlock sighs. For what, indeed? If he tells John, he will have to explain everything; Irene’s unrelenting campaign, her conviction that it will all work out for the best. Sherlock does not share her belief and, now that things are finally settling down again, the very last thing he wants to do is rock the boat. No, best to leave things the way they are.
He is just about to make up a convenient lie when the phone releases its naughty exhalation once more. John jumps. They both stare at the phone in Sherlock’s hand.
It’s time to tell him, Sherlock
John’s eyes darken as he stares at Sherlock. He really doesn’t need any more surprises. Sherlock had promised. No more secrets.
“Tell me what, Sherlock?”