“Hey Sherlock. I'd like to go to the cinema tonight. Haven't been in ages.” John stretches in his chair. There is traffic noise from Baker Street, the familiar humming of a Friday's rush hour. Although it sounds more relaxed than usual on this crisp November evening. Or maybe it is John, lazy and comfy after a whole day of lounging in the flat.
“C'mon, Sherlock. Get dressed. If we speed up a little, we might be in time for the eight o'clock film.”
Sherlock doesn't move. He is lying on the sofa, wrapped in his dressing gown, reading a forensics journal.
“And you wouldn't have any reason to complain about being bored,” John tries again.
Sherlock lowers the journal and glances in John's direction. “I'm not bored.” He yawns. “Which film?”
“Ah... Dr Strange.”
Three and a half hours later, John and Sherlock tumble out of the Odeon. Leicester Square is buzzing with people. A general noise of laughter and chatter washes over them. The air feels fresh and cold, cleaner than it should do in central London.
“Wow. That was... quite a ride. Haven't seen anything like that in ages. Those special effects were positively mind blowing.”
“Were they?” Sherlock sounds as aloof as always. Even though the mere fact that he stopped commenting the film while watching it tells John that he got more absorbed in it than usual.
“Yes, Sherlock, they were. It was like... walking through a kaleidoscope. London and New York folding up, it was bloody amazing!”
They drift through the masses, close to each other, their elbows touching. They turn left, maundering towards Coventry Road and Piccadilly Circus.
“The possibilities of computer generated imagery have advanced. And the idea of bending the laws of physics was visualized quite impressively.”
“Hell, yes. And that weird space-other-dimension-thing Strange went to... did you see him trying to catch the butterfly? You can tell the original comic is from the 1960s... looked like an LSD trip,” John chuckles.
“It is a widely spread misbelief that everything is squishy with colours when you're high, John.”
“Oh come on, don't be a dick. You liked it.”
“The narration was rather predictable,” Sherlock says in mild disdain. When he sees John raising his eyebrows, he adds, “But there were some interesting ideas.”
“Knew you liked it.”
John smiles. It is quite a perfect night. He takes a simple joy in Sherlock walking next to him, so close by his side. John has moved back into Baker Street almost half a year ago. They are back to companionable silences, cases, everything. He watches the buses and cabs rushing by. A group of girls walking in front of them is squealing with laughter, almost stumbling from the pavement onto the street.
Scenes from the film replay in his mind. After a few minutes of quiet walking John says, “He was quite an arsehole at first.”
John looks at Sherlock at his side. The lights from the billboards at Piccadilly Circus are bathing his face in different colours every few seconds.
“Oh, Sherlock, come on. The man, the protagonist! The doctor whose hands were broken in that car accident–“
“He was utterly stupid to drive so fast while answering a phone and reading medical reports on his tablet. Although it might have been interesting to learn more about the surgery of his hands.”
“Sherlock, if you want surgery techniques, read my medical journals. I mean, it was fascinating how he turned from an obnoxious bastard to someone kind. He even apologized.”
“Did he? I didn't notice.”
“You bloody well did.”
John can see from the corner of his eyes that Sherlock is biting back a smile.
“I liked the time warp scene,” Sherlock admits.
“Yes, I can figure.”
“Although the evil entity was somewhat ridiculous.”
At Piccadilly Circus, they consider taking the Bakerloo line back to Baker Street. But instead Sherlock suggests having some Vietnamese. (“There's a nice restaurant at Wardour Street. It shouldn't be that crowded right now. The other place the owners opened last month a few streets from there is much more popular. Their Pho Xao is rather good.”)
“Who was that actor?” John asks later, through a mouthful of broken rice.
“Who?” Sherlock steals a fork of John's mushrooms.
“The guy who played Dr Strange? He's been fascinating enough. Think I've seen him before, he looked somewhat... familiar. You don't really forget cheekbones like that. Or those... eyes, quite unusual.”
“Him, Sherlock. The man the film was about. Dr Stephen Strange.”
“Yes, I got that, but what was remarkable about him?”
“Don't know. His face? It was unusually... handsome?” Christ, where did that come from?
John looks up from his plate. What was meant to be a short glimpse in their conversation, just to check Sherlock's reaction within a split second, turns into a proper stare: The similarity between Sherlock and that actor is striking. Take away the curls, add a goatee...Oh my God.
Sherlock looks at him in amused disbelief, but his light green-silvery eyes are scrutinizing. John prays that for once Sherlock isn't able to deduce his mind. Probably just that sodding dim light in here. Casting dramatic shadows under his cheekbones and everything. Everybody looks different in such a light.
John realizes he is sweating slightly. His ears feel as if they were put on fire. Anything he might add now will only make it worse.
“Forget I said anything, Sherlock.”
John slumps into his chair. It is a rainy Thursday evening, he has come home from the clinic a few minutes ago. He takes yesterday's Guardian he hasn't finished reading and scans through the headlines. He is a little surprised to hear the familiar sounds of a kettle being put on and, a few moments later, of water being poured into two mugs. Sherlock is making tea. John smiles.
He hears Sherlock opening the fridge and tossing around some boxes in there. Finally Sherlock concludes, “John. We need milk.”
“Did you take the last one this morning? Well. Go to Tesco and get some, then.” He knows it is usually a hopeless endeavour to make Sherlock do that. But tonight, he just wants his chair, the newspaper, something to eat and maybe some telly later on. He doesn't want to think about anything and much less do anything.
“You go, John.”
“Why should I?”
“You always do.”
“Nope. Absolutely won't. I've had a double shift at the clinic and I won't get up from my chair for the next hour. No. Make it two. At least. I'm not going anywhere.”
The silence following John's (as he would like to believe) very final “no” sounds promising and is about to fill him with a certain pride. But apparently it was the time Sherlock needed to find a new strategy. Or maybe Sherlock gave him a little moment for dramatic purposes.
“John. I've come to bargain.”
John looks up from his papers. What?
“You've come to do what?”
“To bargain. It's really rather simple. You go and get the milk.”
John firmly stares at a spot on the curtains behind Sherlock's chair.
“And I give you my card.”
“No, I don't need your bloody card, Sherlock. And that's no bargaining. That's just making me do things for you. And, no, I'm not going to get milk. My feet actually ache. I'm tired. Go yourself, you lazy bastard.”
John tries to focus on the newspaper again.
“I've come to bargain.”
“John. I've come to bargain.”
“You go and get some milk. We need milk.”
“John. I've come to bargain.”
“Shut it, Sherlock! Why are you doing this?”
“Because we've run out of milk.”
“No, for God's sake!”
“You said you liked that actor and I thought I'd incorporate some of his traits. Maybe that would make you more amenable to –”
“What? I never said I liked him.”
“Well, that was fairly obvious, wasn't it?”
“We still need milk, John.”
“No, don't say anything.”
“I've come to –“
“What, Sherlock?” John is absolutely exasperated by now.
“I've come to bargain.”
After a while of silent brooding over what Sherlock has said earlier, John is done with it. And he is more wound up by this new little game of Sherlock's than he would like to admit. Throughout this week, he has successfully pushed aside a few simple facts: The fact that this actor is definitely very handsome. The fact that he feels strangely drawn to him. More so, that Sherlock is very handsome. Adding to the fact that he already is his best friend, his flat mate (again) and the person he feels most comfortable with. Despite his infuriating laziness and his general madness. And he really, really doesn't like being reminded of any of these things, especially not by Sherlock. Maybe getting some fresh air isn't such a bad idea, after all.
“Fine, Sherlock, fine,” John hisses through gritted teeth. “But I will pick the film tonight.”
There is, in fact, a Vietnamese restaurant on Wardour Street in Soho, it's called Pho. Their Pho Xao is rather good!
Chapter 2: Third Star
The summary of the film John chooses sounds well enough at a first quick read: A couple of blokes are going on a hiking trip to a beach somewhere in Wales. One of them is terminally ill, but, well, John is a doctor. And a soldier. Nothing he hasn't seen before.
They sit on the couch, eating the Thai Sherlock ordered right out of the containers. Having a cuppa. With milk. Maybe a beer later.
The film starts with a sad birthday party for the ill guy. Sherlock wildly deduces the characters until John tells him to shut up, because he hasn't seen the damn thing yet. Surprisingly enough, Sherlock does shut up.
The Welsh landscape is beautifully shot. John starts to miss the sea and gets lost in the film. How young these men are. He has to think of life choices. The man in the film with the pregnant girlfriend and the feeling that this is wrong are oddly relatable. He glances sideways at Sherlock, propped up on the sofa next to him and watching the film with a deep crease between his brows. And he is very thankful that particular episode in his life is over.
The last twenty minutes of the film affected John more than he anticipated. He has seen people in pain, but it is something different when you are there as a friend instead of a doctor. As the men in the film sit on the beach, the body of their young, dead friend on their lap, John finally exhales and feels a tear running down his cheek. He can't help but look at Sherlock for a split second.
Sherlock isn't watching the film, but he is watching him. John doesn't manage to hold his gaze, he tries to focus on the screen instead. Sherlock is still looking at him. John just saw something in his eyes, as if he had really, truly understood the complexity of something he never could quite grasp before. Fucking true, John thinks, swallowing. The last words of the film are shockingly poetic and sad and it takes all of John's discipline not to fall apart.
So I raise a morphine toast to you. And, should you remember that it's the anniversary of my birth, remember that you were loved by me and you made my life a happy one. And there's no tragedy in that.
John can't separate the film from his own feeling of loss, the one he has hoped he had overcome, because Sherlock is here and alive. But it is back, all of it, the blood on the pavement, the feeling as if his own chest has been ripped open. The sadness that had threatened to suffocate him. Although things are different in the film, although it isn't his own life shown there. The screen has gone black, Sherlock must have switched it off in the mean time. The room is thrumming with silence.
“Fuck, sorry,” John says, trying for a laugh, slightly embarrassed by his emotions. But his voice fails him and he sounds rough.
Sherlock is silent. John feels his eyes no longer resting on him.
“I am sorry, John.”
And then Sherlock does a strange thing: He moves closer and wraps his arms around John, he carefully pulls him into a hug, murmuring “I am sorry” once more. John is surprised and relieved about the comfort he finds in this odd yet welcome embrace, but he doesn't dare to hold it longer than a beat of his heart.
“I... yeah. Thanks. Sherlock. Sorry I've picked such a sad one.”
“What is it called?”
“Er, Third Star. Didn't think it would be... well. Like that.”
“It's okay. It was a good film.”
Sherlock looks calmer than John supposes he does, but the furrow between his eyebrows hasn't disappeared.
“Another cuppa?” John asks because he needs something to do. “We've got milk now, you know.”
John makes two cups of tea and bins the empty Thai containers. They settle into their chairs and John tries to find new, lighter subjects to talk about. He asks about the bunch of cold cases Sherlock got from Lestrade a few days ago and for the next hour, Sherlock takes him through the solutions. They are back on solid ground, although something seems to have shifted between them. John can't quite put the finger on it. Despite of the tears he shed (or maybe because of them, he muses), remembering Sherlock's fall feels a bit less painful now.
It is already past midnight when John gets up from his chair, stifling a yawn.
“Right. I'd better go to sleep now. G'night, Sherlock,” he says, walking to the door.
He has almost left the room, when Sherlock asks, “That actor. James. Was it the same as in the other film?”
John feels his cheeks go red and he clears his throat. “Maybe,” he murmurs and heads for the bathroom.
The next time they watch a film is two and a half weeks later. They have had a case on in between and spent, thanks to that, a few days in Norfolk. The key to the solution of the case had been to decipher a very odd code. This had saved the American wife from being accused of shooting her husband – the man who had come asking for their help with the encripted messages in the first place. It had been thrilling, despite the tragic death of Mr Cubitt.
While John was writing the case down for his blog, they talked a lot about codes, ciphers and how to crack them. Which had led almost automatically to choosing a film about a British cryptanalyst and mathematician who cracked the German Enigma code during World War II.
John goes through the film's summary on Netflix and its reviews. They point out that the film is at least as much about the protagonist's homosexuality as it is about code-breaking. He hesitates for a moment. Isn't that... sort of dangerous territory? Maybe. But then there is John's fascination with danger and, after all, he is curious to watch that film.
“The Imitation Game? Never heard of it. You're sure this isn't one of your insufferable Bond movies?” Sherlock had asked when John suggested watching it.
“I'm quite sure, Sherlock. It was nominated for seven, no, eight Oscars. And besides, you do like James Bond.”
John is instantly fascinated by the film and quickly drawn into it. He can see why it had been nominated for so many awards. The atmosphere and the cast are just great. He finds that actor's performance outstanding. If he is honest with himself, he might have a bit of a boy crush on the man. The fact that he bears a striking resemblance to Sherlock might add to it. But, well, they're both damn good looking, aren't they? Besides, Sherlock is just... well. Sherlock. I've been through that – he is my best friend. Yeah. That's it. Best friend.
Other than usual, Sherlock doesn't talk much throughout the film. He occasionally says a few words when he knows more about a certain thing than the film is able to tell and, of course, corrects it when he deems it necessary. (“This was most definitely not the only machine to decipher the German code. As far as I am informed, there were more than 200 Bombes built in Britain, and none of them at Bletchley Park.”)
But towards the end, watching Alan Turing broken and bereft of his brilliant mind, Sherlock falls completely silent. When the final credits roll, John has to swallow hard, trying to get rid of that lump in his throat.
They sit on the sofa, the screen has gone blank. Usually they linger there in some kind of easy familiarity. They don't care much about each other's personal space. Or whether Sherlock's feet brush against John's thighs (well, actually John does care). Tonight John is intensely aware of where and how Sherlock sits on his side of the leather sofa – upright, not at all lazily slumped against the cushions. It isn't only about the film or Alan Turing. There is something else. Something about them, or Sherlock.
The silence between them is loaded. He is rather certain Sherlock knows what it feels like to be the only person with outstanding mental abilities and to be someone who doesn't fit in. He would bet Sherlock knows what it is like to be... lonely. And who might be – the idea is born like a spark in his mind, he doesn't quite know where it comes from and he is a bit startled by it – gay?
John used to believe what Sherlock had told him: that he is married to his work, that he doesn't have friends and that he despises sentiment. But a lot of things Sherlock has done in the past have proven that he is, indeed, an amazing friend. The best, really. And for some of the things he has done there isn't much of a logical explanation. But if John added sentiment to the equation, things started to make some more sense. With Sherlock proven wrong in those points, he isn't so sure about the 'married to his work'-part any more, either. Not that he knew about anyone Sherlock had been in love with, but still... It is just a feeling. He can't quite prove it.
Somewhere deep in his gut he registers a growing feeling of having done something wrong. Was this film a mistake? What is it that he has done?
He is still trying to think of something he could say. Anything to break the silence, to take away that awkwardness and this feeling of guilt he can't explain. Anything to take them back to their mad, ridiculous everyday life. But instead he is more lost for words than he ever has been with Sherlock. This feels as if it had turned into something so very, very personal that John is lost.
Sherlock sits there, not saying anything. It is only the occasional blinking that tells John something must be going on in that mind of his.
When the awkwardness reaches a point close to unbearable, John gets up. He fetches two glasses from the kitchen cabinet and pours each of them two fingers of whiskey. He walks back to the sofa, passes one glass to Sherlock and takes a sip from his own one.
The whiskey feels pleasantly warm in his throat. It is soothing his strange over-awareness about Sherlock. The silence isn't as pressing any more. He dares looking at Sherlock again, who is watching the amber liquid, slowly turning the heavy glass in his large hand.
Sherlock stops moving the glass, drinks and goes back to staring at the glass in his hand. When he finally speaks, he rather addresses the whiskey than John.
“I can... relate to a number of things in that film.” He pauses. “And Turing was an outstanding intellect. An outstanding man indeed.”
Another pause and another sip of whiskey.
“And a fascinating scientist. People have no idea how much of their daily lives is intertwined with his work. It is a shame his achievements are so little known.”
After yet another pause, he adds, “It is a shame how he has been treated. A shame. An atrocity.”
He drinks the whiskey that is left in his glass, stands up and walks towards his bedroom.
“Good night, John,” is the last thing John hears before Sherlock's bedroom door falls shut.
John sits on the sofa for a long time before he manages to go to bed.
He doesn't sleep well and wakes several times that night. With the inhibitions and unconscious defence mechanisms of a well-rested mind taken away, he finds himself pondering the question whether Sherlock might be gay. And what that would mean. For them. For him.
He never knew what to call that thing Sherlock had had with the woman. Attraction? Fascination? He is sure it wasn't love. He doesn't want it to be. And Janine... well, she was a means to get hold of Magnussen. He has the impression that Sherlock might have liked her, but rather definitely not that way. He can't tell whether this speculation is based on the truth or just wishful thinking.
So. What if he was... gay?
I'm not gay. And with that thought, his guilt kicks in anew.
I've been an idiot. He thought Sherlock was simply not interested in something so utterly related to sentiment and transport. He tried to save his own reputation in front of others and, most of all, in front of himself. And he possibly hurt Sherlock each time. Having watched this film, having witnessed how gay men were treated in this country merely sixty years ago, makes him feel even worse. Hell, what's wrong with being gay?
Yes, what is? Tell me, John. He hears Ella's voice in his mind. She would have liked the way he is coming to conclusions right now.
Well, it's just that I am not. Gay.
But you are thinking about this actor quite a lot. It sounds as if you were attracted to him, the Ella in his mind says.
Yes. Well. Maybe I am.
And you said he looked very much like Sherlock.
John doesn't answer Ella, he tries to wait it out, which is a foolish thing, given that all of this is happening in his mind.
Are you attracted to Sherlock?
I was married to a woman, Ella.
Yes, but that doesn't say anything about the way you feel about Sherlock.
When he doesn't reply to this either, the Ella in his mind asks a different question. She resembles the real Ella in an almost shocking way.
Do you think he feels that way about you?
If you haven't watched The Imitation Game, do it. It is one of the best films Benedict Cumberbatch has starred in and his acting is breathtaking.
Alan Turing is most definitely a man who should never be forgotten. For a quick survey, read his
Chapter 4: Little Favour
John is thinking a lot. He tries to behave normally, but – it proves to be rather hard. Additionally, he feels as if he should try to somehow atone for maybe, probably hurting Sherlock. He has no idea how, he lacks to words one could possibly say, the gestures that might express how sorry he is. How confused.
Sherlock starts a number of experiments that keep him (and the kitchen) occupied for most of the following days. He solves some boring cases from the flat, texting Lestrade. Neither of them talks much and despite his shifts at the clinic, John has plenty of time to think. Much more than he would like.
He finds himself trying out that new thought. Sherlock might be gay. Ok. At night, after a beer or a glass of whiskey (or two), he also tries that other thought. I might be attracted to Sherlock. I might not be... entirely straight. Hell. He's my best friend.
John is lying on his bed with his laptop. Sherlock is downstairs in the kitchen and didn't even notice him when he got back from the pub where he has had a beer with Greg. Rather out of boredom, he is browsing through that actor's IMBD page. (Sherlock has come to call him 'his actor', as if that had been necessary on top of it all). Afterwards he checks if there is a short film his actor starred in on youtube. There is.
In that short film, his actor plays a retired agent. A friend of his meets him in an abandoned building to call in a Little Favour.
Oh for fuck's sake, what kind of modern ruins have that kind of dramatic light? Of course he looks bloody gorgeous there.
John somehow loses track of the plot. Suddenly the main character is on the floor of a hall, threatened by some brutes with heavy Eastern European accents. His shirt is gone and he is wearing a vest whose only purpose might be to give the audience plain sight of the actor's bare arms. His hair is a mess and he is covered in blood. Although he is badly beaten up, John's mouth goes dry and he stares at the man on the screen.
He could be Sherlock, if Sherlock had two stones of muscles added to his body.
John has a hard time staying calm. It proves difficult watching him being kicked and punched until blood is running down his face. John's jaw is tight.
I'd protect Sherlock. No one would ever fucking try to do that to Sherlock if I was around.
But it isn't only his reflex to protect Sherlock that winds him up, it is also the raw masculinity of the man.
Which man? The actor's or–
“Oh, is that him again? He is rather impressively beaten to a pulp. I bet all your doctor's instincts are being triggered here.”
Sherlock is standing in John's door, casually leaning against the door frame. John hasn't heard him come up the stairs and he definitely hasn't heard him knock before entering. How long has he been watching? And, of course, Sherlock catches on to what is happening here in less than a second.
“What do you want, Sherlock?” John tries to sound calm, relaxed. Nothing is happening here. It's not like he's caught me watching porn.
“Wanted to know if you were in.”
“Usually you just shout my name or call my phone, even if I'm only in the other room.”
“Well, this time, I obviously didn't.”
The door falls shut, Sherlock is gone and John is left to the remaining minutes of his film.
Chapter 5: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Falling into their usual pattern of ignoring things, they don't mention this again. John still doesn't know what to say about any of it.
It isn't until after Christmas that they watch a film again. Sherlock's parents have asked them to come and see them for Christmas, but they have had a case on until Boxing day. John was rather glad about this. As much as he likes Sherlock's parents, spending the holidays with them would have felt more than strange. Taking into consideration what had happened last year. Taking into consideration the mess he is in right now when it comes to Sherlock. Maybe next time.
When the killer is finally caught late on the 26th and the paperwork with Lestrade is finished, Sherlock spends the next 18 hours sleeping. In the evening, they decline an invitation from Mycroft, John makes risotto instead and they decide to watch something. The Hobbit has been on John's list for ages. His actor is said to make a somewhat veiled appearance as the Necromancer. Maybe Sherlock won't notice.
In a hole on the ground, there lived a hobbit...
John loves the film at once, and he is determined not to let Sherlock ruin it. But, as it turns out, Sherlock does find a way of spoiling this for him. As Bilbo argues with Gandalf that he doesn't want any adventures, Sherlock starts laughing. And he doesn't stop.
John is puzzled. Sherlock is genuinely laughing, with those wrinkles next to his eyes that John loves so much, and he is pointing at the screen.
“That!” he manages when Bilbo's dinner is interrupted by a dwarf rushing into his place.
“That is so funny. That really is so funny,” Sherlock laughs and he might even be wiping tears from his eyes.
“What?” John is getting impatient.
“He looks like you, John! Bilbo Baggins looks exactly like you.”
“Sherlock.” John stares at the screen.
Wow, thank you, Sherlock. You have deduced I'm somewhat fancying an 5'8” supermodel actor who looks like your twin brother. And you compare me to a fucking hobbit. Thanks a lot. Really. That's exactly what I need these days.
“Listen, he even talks like you do when you are upset.”
“Sherlock.” The sound of voice should tell Sherlock that this would a perfect point of time to stop.
Sherlock is still giggling.
“Sherlock, I neither have bloody pointed ears nor bloody hairy feet and I might not be as bloody tall as you are, but I am by no means a bloody Hobbit. Now shut the fuck up and let me watch this film.”
Sherlock bites back another chuckle. On screen, the dwarves are taking apart Bilbo's kitchen and the food he has had in stock. John feels slightly betrayed by the film. He does know exactly how Bilbo feels, when life rushes in and doesn't quite bother asking if you are ok with what is happening right now.
John ignores everything Sherlock utters for the next thirty minutes. He focuses on the film. His actor is indeed almost unrecognisable as the Necromancer. By the time Bilbo saves the dwarves from being eaten by a bunch of mountain trolls, even John has to laugh.
The secret to cooking dwarves is... is... you skin them first!
Good one, mate, John thinks. Show them.
He looks over at Sherlock, checking if he is still mocking him. But Sherlock is watching the film, and he is even smiling.
He hasn't bothered getting out of his pyjama bottoms since he shuffled into the kitchen after he got up around half past four in the afternoon.
“Hey,” he yawned as he sat down on his chair at the kitchen table. “You have been doing... things.”
“Yeah,” John replied, unpacking his shopping bag, “I've been to Tesco. Milk, bread, stuff for dinner. Fancied you might be hungry after you'd wake up.”
“I am. When did you get up?”
“Quarter to one.” John was almost done with the shopping bag, he put the last bottle of milk in the fridge when he noticed Sherlock's clothes.
“Is that my t-shirt?” John stared at the inside-out and rather too short tee Sherlock was wearing. “That is mine! And, Christ, Sherlock, it's one of my good ones!”
“Sorry. Couldn't find anything else when I... the last time I slept.”
“No wonder I haven't seen it in ages. Just... just put it into the laundry basket later, right?”
The moment he said this he knew he would pick the shirt up from the basket and smell it. He hates the way his mind plays these little tricks on him ever since he started wondering if Sherlock was gay. If John might be attracted or God knows what to him. And what Sherlock might possibly feel for him or if he felt things like that at all.
Sherlock is still wearing the shirt, over there, on his side of the sofa, wrapped in his dressing gown, his bare feet propped at the table. And he looks as if he is truly enjoying himself.
John likes Sherlock when he is being brilliant, when he is solving a case within the fraction of a second by observing things no one else would ever see. But this, this is how John likes Sherlock best: Relaxed and happy. Eating. A wave of affection is running through John. He has no idea if Sherlock is still amused by the similarity or whatever he is seeing there between John and Bilbo or if he just likes the film.
“You like the film?”
“Course I do. I don't get to see an actor with almost exactly your set of character traits and physical features everyday. I can see why you like it. Although I am rather glad that you have a different attitude towards adventure and danger.”
“Sherlock,” John says with a small hint of laughter in his voice. “Come on.”
“You asked!” And after a pause, Sherlock adds, “The film is good. I have liked Tolkien ever since I read his books as a child.”
“Yes. Mycroft read The Hobbit to me before he left for boarding school. After I had learned how to read, I read The Lord of the Rings. And the Silmarillion.”
John enjoys these glimpses into Sherlock's past, into his childhood. Especially when Sherlock trusts him with small pieces of information and he doesn't just happens to learn about something Sherlock rather would have preferred to hide. Like the relieving fact that his parents are kind and comparatively ordinary people.
“You read it as well,” Sherlock states.
“Yeah. It's been ages.”
“Yes, and clearly you have forgotten the most important parts.”
“Because otherwise you wouldn't be so upset when I compare you to Bilbo.”
When John doesn't reply, he goes on, “He is courageous. He is kind. He is loyal. Resourceful. Brave. He cares. People underestimate him constantly. As does he himself. But he is anything a man could ask for.”
John is a bit nonplussed by this. Sherlock rarely praises someone likes this, especially not a fictional character. He opens his mouth to say something. But instead he looks at the screen to buy for time, where Bilbo, Gandalf and the dwarves have arrived in Rivendell. He takes another look at Sherlock. He seems to be lost watching the film and John realizes that he doesn't really expect an answer.
Later on, when he is almost falling asleep in his bed, he has to think about what Sherlock said earlier. Did he call Bilbo or him anything a man could ask for? He wants to rush down the stairs, storm into his room, wake him up and ask him.
Wait. What you said. What did you mean?
Did you mean me?
Am I everything you could ask for?
The days before Sherlock's birthday, John has been trying to find a present. He had already bought a new magnifier, but this didn't seem to be appropriate, it didn't quite meet what Sherlock meant to him. Not that he was sure what Sherlock meant to him in the first place.
John was getting rather fed up with that uneasy tension between them. He couldn't even look at Sherlock any more without noticing how bloody good-looking he was. And although Sherlock actually was no less of an arrogant, rude git than normal, John had to admit that he could be rather caring and considerate. Especially in situations when John least expected it. He noticed every door Sherlock held open for him. Every crime scene barrier tape he lifted so John could follow. Every glance and every warm smile. He caught Sherlock watching him when he thought John wasn't paying attention. John was sure he was heading towards insanity at an alarming pace.
After New Year's, he had a pint with Greg who, in the end, saved the day. He suggested giving Sherlock and John a private tour through Scotland Yard's infamous 'Black Museum' after hours. Including the artefacts the Yard had chosen not to display in the museum. John couldn't believe Sherlock had never been there.
If he likes it, I'll make a move, he promised himself, feeling giddy from alcohol and relief about this perfect idea for Sherlock's birthday. Just to find out.
They spent the day in the flat. In the morning, John had given Sherlock the new magnifier as a birthday present and Sherlock didn't seem to expect anything else. He took Sherlock to Angelo's for an early dinner, not missing that it felt a bit more like a date than he had intended. When they were finished eating, a cab took them to the Yard. Sherlock fired questions at him – “Is there a case, John? Did you get me a serial killer? Did Lestrade call you? No, obviously not. Is this about my birthday? John. Tell me. I don't like not knowing.”
Sherlock loved the Black Museum. He pointed out no less than sixteen mistakes the police had made during the investigation of the John Christie case in the 1950s. He proved all the letters allegedly written by Jack the Ripper to be fake. And he was outright impressed by creativity and cleverness of some of the killers. Greg had to defend generations of met officers against Sherlock's accusations of being utter imbeciles. He was looking a bit weary at the end of their four hour tour, so they bought him a pint at a nearby pub, hailed him a cab and went home afterwards.
They are both too excited to go to sleep right now. So Sherlock opens a bottle of wine and gets them two glasses, while John switches on the telly and swaps channels, searching for something to watch. And he is lucky: There is one of the new Star Trek films on Channel 4.
They have missed the first bit. Captain Kirk is just being informed that he will have to go back to Star Fleet Academy as a punishment for the latest foolishness he has committed. And then London is being shown in the next scene.
“That is supposed to be London in the 23rd century?” Sherlock enquires as he sits down next to John. He hands John a glass of wine.
“Thanks. Yeah, s'ppose it is.”
“It's absolutely ridiculous. Could be any city on any river. With something remotely resembling St Paul's amidst the skyscrapers.”
John doesn't hear what else Sherlock is saying. His ears are swooshing with white noise at the sight of, Christ, his actor. Luckily there are only a few short scenes for now and John's pulse gets the chance to go back to normal while the story commences.
Bombs and futuristic air crafts explode. Kirk goes back onboard the Enterprise instead of Star Fleet Academy. And after a while, the best of Kirk's crew are facing some unsurprisingly hostile Klingons on a dark and broken planet.
Hell, there he is again. Dramatic dark coat, dishevelled hair, saving the away team single-handedly from the Klingons.
Although John loves Sherlock's curls, that fringe is... doing things to him. As are the well-choreographed fight scenes with the Klingons.
He's a sexy beast, that's pretty obvious.
“Well, he does have a beautiful arse,” Sherlock states a few scenes later. John's actor is shown in the Enterprise's brig, not wearing his coat, but rather tight trousers.
What? That? From Sherlock?
John is stunned. He remembers his promise to make a move, born out of too much booze and childish happiness. He has completely forgotten about it throughout the whole day. And then it might be that night's excitement still running through his veins, because he doesn't know where his boldness comes from when he replies, “I like yours better.”
Sherlock goes on watching the film, he even has a sip of wine, but then, then John's words sink in.
“Mine?” The air in the living room is charged with electricity. John decides not to backpedal, mustering all his courage.
Sherlock's lips form a what he never speaks, because John has finally left him speechless.
His lips are... perfect , John thinks and has to look away, pretending to be very interested in the film. I have to stop staring at his lips or I'll kiss him. Which I can't. I... can't.
A few minutes pass and the tension eases up a little. Then, for some reason John can't quite recall, his actor is taking a shower. This produces an entirely superfluous, dramatic and fucking gorgeous shot of his naked chest.
John glances at Sherlock. He is staring at the screen, rather magnetised. Tousled hair, the sleeves of his dark blue shirt rolled up, first two buttons undone and the other ones screaming across his chest. John exhales. And then he knows. He is the most beautiful man I know. He's it. For me.
Without taking his eyes off the screen, Sherlock takes his glass and sips on his wine. When he puts it back on the table, he spills some wine over his hand. He looks as his hand, frowning, and licks his long, graceful fingers clean. John is mesmerized.
He sits up and turns to Sherlock. Sherlock tilts his head, as if he wanted to ask what John was up to. His pale blue-green eyes look at him in surprise.
And John leans in. He is milliseconds away from kissing Sherlock, Sherlock. It feels as thrilling as everything does with Sherlock, so he desperately tries to work up the courage to finally do it.
He feels Sherlock's lips touching his. They are soft and warm and lush, and Sherlock smells amazing this close – so it takes him a moment to figure out what has happened.
Sherlock kissed him.
It is as simple as that. Sherlock kissed him. In the end, it was Sherlock who closed the last few centimetres between them. John smiles into the kiss. Sherlock withdraws a little, but their noses touch, and he says, his voice the most fascinating mixture of a whisper and his baritone, “What?”
“You,” John whispers back.
“Yes.” Now Sherlock is smiling, too, and there is a low chuckle, almost inaudible. “Of course, John.”
John inhales his scent, intoxicated by being so close to him. He might be positively high on Sherlock. He leans back in for another kiss and opens his mouth. He touches Sherlock's tongue and his heart might be skipping a beat.
He tousles one hand into Sherlock's curls and brushes the other one against his jaw. They slot into each other and after a moment, he feels Sherlock's hands on his back and then – oh Christ – on his ear, of all things. Sherlock 's touches start immeasurably gentle and grow steadily firm. John isn't used to being kissed by someone taller than him. And he can smell another man's – Sherlock's – aftershave and feel his end-of-day stubble ghosting over his skin. And that, all that – that doesn't matter to him at all. He is weirdly content and relieved. This might be everything he ever wanted.
John delves into the kiss, pouring all his joy into it. If he wasn't so breathtakingly, perfectly occupied right now, he would burst out laughing at how bloody fantastic it is to kiss Sherlock.
There is a small groan from Sherlock, an exhale with the barest hint of a sigh, but John is addicted to it immediately. He is losing himself in these kisses and something inside John melts. It might be his resistance against this, his hesitation, his insecurity. His goddamn I'm not gay.
They kiss. John can't remember when kissing last felt this arousing. When it last has been everything and not enough at all at the same time.
Sherlock, pale with flushed cheeks, breathing heavily, leans back. He doesn't let go of John. So John follows, they shift and clumsily push two cushions off the sofa until John is on top of Sherlock. While lying down was a brilliant idea, John underestimated the fact that their bodies might be pressed together much more intimately.Christ, how is Sherlock going to react to my cock being pressed against him?
“Never thought you'd be so heavy, John,” Sherlock states, a little out of breath. When John wants to reply something, Sherlock interrupts, “Go on kissing me. Please. Now.”
John does. They are quickly getting used to each other, doing this. John already gets an idea of how Sherlock likes to be kissed. When John sucks on Sherlock's plush lower lip, Sherlock groans again and there it is, a small, fluid movement in his body: He is rolling his hips against John's and John, without thinking, takes up the motion. He feels the unmistakably hard length of Sherlock's cock against his and this, this is more arousing than he would have ever thought possible.
On the screen, the ship's chief engineer discovers a secret Star Fleet facility near Jupiter. A conspiracy meant to trigger an interstellar war is about to be revealed. Sherlock and John don't see any of this.
John's universe centres around Sherlock and his heartbeat rushing under John's lips as he kisses the pulse point on his neck. Their tentative first kisses have shifted into something deeper. John needs more, now, right now. He slips his hand into Sherlock's shirt.
“That ok?” he breathes against Sherlock's collarbone.
There is a nod and a “Please,” rumbling low in the chest under John's hand and John starts undoing the buttons. He looks at the fair skin, with fine dark hair and a silvery-pink scar. Before he can touch it, Sherlock pushes John's striped shirt up until his hands can roam over John's bare back.
“Wait,” John says, sitting up and pulling his shirt and vest over his head. Sherlock looks at him with something between fascination and hunger, his eyes briefly lingering on the scar on John's shoulder.
John leans down for another kiss. He strokes Sherlock's chest and feels his nipples harden under his touch. They are beautiful. He has never thought of a man's nipples as beautiful, but Sherlock's are. He kisses them and sucks at them until Sherlock pants a surprised, incredulous “Oh fuck” into his hair.
With the image of Khan's wet chest flickering through his mind, John wants to see Sherlock without that shirt, to feel him against his own naked skin. With all the patience he can muster he undoes the remaining buttons and his cuffs. Sherlock leans up to strip off the shirt and John catches his gaze. There is a hint of insecurity in Sherlock's eyes. This is unacceptable.
“You're beautiful, Sherlock. So fucking beautiful,” John whispers. Because Sherlock is beautiful, all slender and lean muscles.
“You're gorgeous. So much better than anyone on a screen could ever be.”
John kisses him.
“I... I just don't understand how I could live with you for–” he kisses Sherlock again, lightly, “for fucking years without ripping off your clothes.”
“Yeah,” Sherlock breathes between kisses with a relieved smile that betrays his words, “me neither.”
They lie on the sofa, kissing. They manage to undress each other inelegantly until only their pants are left. Both Sherlock's and John's hands are trembling very slightly and they both pretend they don't notice.
“This thing... sofa... whatever we're going to do, it's too narrow,” John states to make himself stop wondering whether he should touch the bulge in Sherlock's charcoal pants.
“Bedroom, then?” Sherlock breathes.
None of them bothers to switch off the telly as they stumble towards Sherlock's bedroom, barefoot and drunk on arousal and a bit nervous all the same.
Sherlock stops and stands next to his bed. He looks as if he feels a little lost, so John steps close and lays his hands on his upper arms. He kisses him again until this feeling that they are most probably about to have sex and the oddness that comes with it ease.
Slowly, he touches Sherlock's chest again, his nipples, and when he is shifting his weight from one foot to the other, he brushes his hipbone against Sherlock's cock and Sherlock groans. John wants to hear that again, he wants Sherlock to go on making these sounds and the nervousness is overridden by want.
Sherlock takes two small steps back until the bed touches his legs and he lies down, backwards, his eyes fixed on John. John is following him.
He can't get enough of Sherlock, he wants him. He slides his left hand down between them. When he touches Sherlock's cock, Sherlock does make that sound again and pushes his hips towards John, arching into his touch. John feels Sherlock's hands on his arse, and now he is groaning. Sherlock hooks his fingers into the waistband of John's pants and pulls them down. John struggles with getting his legs out of this last piece of clothing. When it is gone, Sherlock fiercely pulls him into an embrace and kisses him him so hard their teeth click.
And now it is Sherlock's hand that sneaks between them. And then he feels Sherlock's fingers wrap around his cock. His thumb is circling the head of John's cock, smearing precome all over it.
“Oh my God, don't stop...” John pants.
He is far beyond thinking, but he remembers how Sherlock licked these very fingers earlier this evening. They feel glorious on his cock, perfect, absolutely breathtaking. He wants to make him feel the same. He wants to see him naked. He reaches for Sherlock's pants and strokes his cock through the soft fabric. He hears him hold his breath as he slowly pulls his pants down.
His cock is gorgeous, so much like Sherlock himself – long, and slender, and a little terrifying in its beauty. Sherlock sucks in a breath when John touches it, weighs it in his hands, lets his fingers explore the tender skin, the head, the moisture.
Sherlock looks at him, his eyes wide, as if he couldn't quite believe what is happening. And then John surprises himself for the second time this night, because he shifts downwards until he can bow down and lick it. He opens his mouth and engulfs the head of Sherlock's cock.
Oh my God. Oh my God. This is... this is...
John lacks the words to even think about what this feels like. He runs his tongue over the head of Sherlock's cock, along its shaft. He tastes his precome, it is incredibly arousing. He quickly finds a pace that makes Sherlock breathe faster and harder. Sherlock's skin under his fingers is damp and he feels him moving his hips against his mouth. John nothing but loves the way he looks like right now. So familiar. So shockingly unknown.
“Come up here, John,” Sherlock growls, “or this will be over... far too soon.”
They kiss, Sherlock moans when he tastes himself in John's mouth and in the end, it is over soon. They slide against each other, align, move. The feeling of Sherlock's cock against his own is something he never could have imagined. John wraps his hand around both of them and pumps it up and down, applying more pressure after a while, speeding up.
There are beads of sweat on Sherlock's forehead, ragged breaths and whispered names. John is getting close. He goes faster and harder. With a long, deep groan, his head thrown back against the mattress, Sherlock comes. John is lost at the sight of him, completely unravelled underneath him, gasping for air. It takes only a few more strokes until he is coming as well, hard and long and past comparison with anything he had experienced earlier in his life.
It is half past one when John checks his phone, which has slipped out of his trousers' pocket when Sherlock undressed him on the sofa. He went to the kitchen to get a glass of water. The telly is still rambling, the film must be long over. He switches it off.
He looks around the living room and the kitchen. Their clothes are still pooling on the floor, the wine glasses sit on the low table. The bottle, three quarters empty, next to the kitchen sink. It is cool now and John shivers. But it is perfect. All is good. Everything, finally, is how it is supposed to be. He gets a second glass of water and walks back to Sherlock's bedroom.
“Hey,” he whispers.
“Mmmmh,” Sherlock hums in reply, his eyes closed and his body wrapped in the duvet.
He hands Sherlock the glass. Sherlock opens his eyes and sits up just enough to be able to drink without spilling half the water on the bed.
“Come back to bed.”
Sherlock puts the empty glass on the bedside cabinet. John complies. They kiss in the grey darkness, their hands ghosting over each other's skin.
“Listen to me, John,” Sherlock whispers after a while, “I'm not sure I will be courageous enough to say this often.”
John goes tense.
“I...” John hears Sherlock swallow before his says with a low and steady voice, “I have been in love with you for a long time.”
John is sure something in his heart shatters. He is grateful for the darkness to cover up the mess of emotions washing over him. A few moments pass before John can speak.
“God, Sherlock. It has taken me a while to figure things out. But... yeah. Yeah, me too.” He clears his throat, the noise is breaking the bedroom's silence. “I'm in love with you, too.”
It takes them a couple of weeks before they manage to watch the film completely. Of course, Sherlock has researched the physics behind Star Trek meanwhile. He gives little lectures on how a transporter actually could work, amongst other facts about how the laws of physics operate in outer space. Or deductions and trivia about the actors. This is Sherlock at his best and John has never had so much fun watching a film.
“That one, there,” Sherlock says, pointing at the screen where the villain is talking to the Vulcan first officer.
“Khan? My actor?” John asks, huffing a laugh.
“No, the other one.”
“Yes. This actor actually is gay and he has a boyfriend you might find surprisingly gorgeous.”
“Oh Sherlock, come on. Stop it.”
“Dark hair, curls, twelve years younger than me...”
“Just check their instagram thing.”
“I'm not checking anyone's instagram or doing anything else while I've got you. Here. With me.”
John kisses Sherlock's forehead.
“Besides, one celebrity crush more than enough.”
“So you do have a crush on him then?”
“Maybe I did. Just needed him as some sort of conductor of light, you know? To help me see a few things.”
John stretches on the sofa. There is a low traffic noise from Baker Street, the familiar humming of buses and cars on a sunday night. It sounds more relaxed than usual on this clear and icy January evening. Or maybe it is John, lazy and ridiculously happy after a whole day of lounging in the flat. With Sherlock.
The Black Museum must be a fascinating place. Unfortunately, it isn't easy to get in. As far as I understand, it's only open to police officers. And you need an appointment.
Argh, my lovely beta ennisnovember pointed out that Khan's shower scene might not have been in the film, but that it was deleted. Oh dear. Let's just... pretend it was in it, ok?
It was so much fun to write this. Now I need to watch ALL the films again.