“One espresso, seven sugars,” said a deep voice.
John looked up from the register, raising an eyebrow. The customer was about eighteen, tall and pale, with a long coat and dark curls falling across his forehead.
“Alright,” said John. He grabbed an espresso cup and opened his Sharpie. “Name?”
John wrote down Sherlock’s name (not sure if he was spelling it right; it was a strange name) and the order, then passed the cup off to Molly to be filled.
“That’ll be one pound,” said John.
The man—Sherlock—paid without saying another word.
As there were no other customers at the moment, John was free to watch him. Sherlock paced back and forth impatiently, and when Molly handed him his cup, he downed it one gulp. John was glad to be watching: the idiot made a disgusted face and threw the cup in the trash, storming out.
“Not your fault,” John told Molly. “Who orders an espresso with that many sugars? He should’ve gotten a latte or something if he doesn’t like coffee's bitterness.”
Molly looked dazed.
“Hm?” she asked. “Oh. Right, yeah. I don’t mind. He was awfully good-looking, don’t you think? I hope he comes back.”
“I guess he was sort of pretty, but you can have him. I’m not gay,” said John.
“Of course you’re not,” said Molly. She smirked at him and ruffled his hair. He ran off to the bathroom to flatten his hair in the mirror.
Six months later, Sherlock had become a regular. He’d found a drink he liked: Americano coffee, black, with four sugars. There had been a few weeks of experimentation with milk and syrups before he’d settled on something simpler.
He came in every day now, always at a different time. He’d sometimes be waiting near the door before they opened at 5am. Other times, they’d have to kick him out at closing. Usually he got his drink and left without saying a word. He merely left two quid on the counter (he demanded that they keep the change; he couldn’t be bothered with coins) and waited for them to fill his drink.
The entire staff learned Sherlock’s name and order very quickly. He’d shouted at them in the beginning when he discovered that staff members who hadn’t met him yet failed to know what he liked, as if he expected the staff to have meetings and discuss the momentous occasion in which Sherlock finally decided what coffee he liked.
Sometimes, Sherlock would come in with his laptop and several armfuls of papers or books. He would spread out at a corner table, taking up four seats and terrorizing anyone who came near him. If an employee pointed out that it had been several hours since he last ordered something, he’d either hand them a twenty pound note and shoo them away or he’d loudly tell them to shut up. It depended on his mood.
Sherlock’s behavior was the most interesting part of John’s job. John only worked about twelve hours a week, taking a few shifts on weekends to earn spending money while he was at uni. He usually had evening rugby practices on weekdays, plus homework, so it was hard to find time to come in then.
Sherlock was fascinating. Some weeks, John would arrive in the afternoon and discover that Sherlock had already come and gone.
Other times, if he was very lucky, Sherlock would arrive around the same time as him, and John would be able to observe him during his entire shift.
“What do you reckon those papers are?” Molly whispered. They debated about it frequently, hiding behind the counter and staring at Sherlock while he worked. “Doesn’t look like homework.”
John pursed his lips and tilted his head. “Maybe he works for the government.”
“No,” said Molly. “Irene says he had a picture of a decapitated corpse yesterday. You don’t think the government’s chopping people’s heads off, do you?”
“’Course not. Maybe he’s studying to be a doctor, like me.”
“Go ask him.”
“What?” said John, looking at her. “Don’t be stupid, Molly. He hates being disturbed. He’s not texting anyone today. He only texts on days he’s relaxed.”
Molly laughed. “Taking notes on him, are you? Please John, have a go. You’ve been pining over him since he first walked in here.”
“He’s only shouted at you twice. That’s nothing. Anderson gets harassed so often he’s thinking of quitting.”
John shrugged. He didn’t particularly like Anderson anyway. “Sherlock won’t want to talk to me. He may tolerate me, but I’m just a barista. He comes here for coffee and a free table, not someone to chat with.”
“I’ll give him your number,” Molly threatened.
“I’ll write it on his cup the next time I’m on register. I’ll do it on a Monday so you won’t be able to stop me.”
“Molly, don’t you dare.”
“Go chat with him, then.”
“If he shouts, you owe me ten pounds.”
It was eight o’clock on a Saturday night. Hardly anyone was in the shop, so John could afford to leave Molly at the counter alone.
Afraid to approach Sherlock empty-handed, he made another cup of Sherlock’s coffee and picked out a chocolate cupcake, which would be thrown out at closing time anyway if no one ate it.
“Hello,” John said cautiously as he approached the table where Sherlock sat. “I, er . . . brought you some more coffee and a snack. On the house. Thought you might need something since you’ve been here a while.”
“I’m not leaving this table,” said Sherlock without looking up. “In the middle of something.”
“Oh. No, er . . . I wasn’t--it’s fine. You can stay. I was trying to be nice.” John looked at the table and realized there was no room for food or drink. The papers were covering the entire surface. He held the offerings awkwardly, feeling stupid for even trying this.
“On the house, you said?”
“Put them on the chair.”
Frowning, John pulled out the chair beside Sherlock and put the offerings there, immediately feeling a loss at no longer having something to hold. What was he supposed to do with his hands? Cross his arms? Play with his belt loops? Pockets. Yes. John put his hands in his pockets, felt awkward, then pulled them back out.
“I’m not hungry,” said Sherlock.
“Right,” said John. “I can take the cupcake back if you don’t want it. Sorry.”
He reached for the stupid cupcake, but Sherlock looked up at him, and the sudden awareness of Sherlock’s startlingly blue eyes stopped him.
“Leave it,” said Sherlock. “I’ll . . . take it home. Don’t be insulted when I fail to eat it.” He waved his hand around when he said ‘insulted,’ as if he thought that taking offense to anything was preposterous.
Sherlock looked back at his laptop and started typing. John waited, expecting him to look back up. He did, after a minute.
“What?” Sherlock snapped.
“Sorry, but what are these papers? You always have a ton of stuff with you, but it doesn’t look like uni homework.”
“Oh.” Silence. John expected Sherlock to clarify what it was. When no answer seemed forthcoming, he asked.
“Case files. I’m helping Scotland Yard.”
“You’re a police officer!” said John with surprise.
“A detective of some kind?”
Sherlock shrugged. “My homework is easy. I get bored.”
“But . . . the police don’t consult amateurs.”
Sherlock’s gaze snapped back to John face, making him shiver. “You’re a uni student. Eighteen—nineteen in a few months, already planning your birthday party. You’re working here to make extra money. Your family can afford to send you to school, but only because you were awarded several scholarships. You’re studying biology, hoping to become a doctor, looking forward to the challenge of med school because university is easy. It bores you. You’d take more shifts in this shop, but you have football practice—no, rugby—several nights a week. You like staying fit partly because it increases your self-esteem, partly because you think women will want to shag you. Quite right, too. You’re thinking about joining the army if med school is too boring, which it will be. Did I get anything wrong?”
John’s mouth fell open slightly. He couldn’t speak for a moment.
“I—did you just say I’m shaggable?”
Sherlock scoffed and looked away. “If you’re going to be boring, leave me alone.”
“Sorry,” said John. “That was a lot to take in. How on earth did you know all that? Have you been talking to Molly?”
“I observed. You were right; the police don’t consult amateurs.”
“Well. That . . . was amazing.”
“Of course it was. Completely incredible. You got everything right.”
Though Sherlock turned away, John caught the smug look on his face.
“So,” John said. “How long are you planning to hang around here?”
“Today or in general?”
Sherlock licked his lips. “Your shift ends at ten.” It wasn’t a question.
“Yes,” John confirmed.
“I’ll talk to you then.”
John pouted. “Why not now?”
“I’m concentrating on this. Don’t bother me unless you want me to change my mind about tonight.”
Smiling, John turned and went back to the register. He peeked over and saw that Sherlock was looking at his laptop screen, but there was a small smile on his face. John had never seen that before.
“Well?” asked Molly, coming up behind him. “How did it go?”
John beamed at her. “I think I have a date.”
Around nine-thirty, as the last few customers flowed through and the tables emptied, John and Molly cleaned up the shop. They flipped the chairs up, swept the floors, cleaned the countertop and tables, and prepared to lock up. Molly offered to stay after ten to finish things off, but John wanted to hang around and chat with Sherlock a bit, so he said he’d take care of it. He sent Molly home.
Sherlock had packed up his things by 9:55 in anticipation of being kicked out, but John didn't do that. He simply shut off the lights to ward off prospective customers and went to sit at the table with him.
“Tell me more about the thing you’re working on,” said John. “The case.”
For a moment, Sherlock looked at him strangely, then he pulled out one of his papers. It showed a section of industrial-looking carpeting with several signs scattered around, each bearing a number identifying the locations of certain pieces of evidence.
“Three people were found dead in a locked room on the twentieth floor of an office building. No living witnesses. No weapons. No trace of drugs. The police think it was a suicide pact. They’re wrong.”
“How do you know?”
“One of the men had an engagement ring in his pocket. He was going to propose to his girlfriend. The pictures in his wallet say that the woman found dead beside him was not the intended recipient of that ring. He wouldn’t have spent thousands of dollars on a ring if he was going to kill himself.”
“Okay. What about the other two bodies? One of them could’ve killed the other two then committed suicide.”
“Wrong. The other man has two kids and his wife is pregnant with a third. He wouldn’t leave them fatherless. Sentiment. His wedding ring is in perfect condition after eight years of marriage. He loves his family. Takes pride in them.”
“And the third body?”
“She was an intern working in the building where she was killed. Excited about her job. She wouldn’t have ended her life."
John nodded, feeling somehow that Sherlock must be right about everything.
“So what do you think happened?” he asked.
A smile worked its way across Sherlock’s face. “Murder. I don’t know how, but someone’s killed them. I’ve been trying to figure out the details. It’s fun.”
“You’re ridiculous,” said John, laughing. “There are people dead and you’re enjoying this.”
“Is that a problem?” Sherlock asked, eyes narrowing defensively.
John shook his head. “No. I think you’re amazing. Er, I mean—the work you’re doing. It’s—”
“You called me amazing,” Sherlock said cautiously. “Why?”
John grinned at him and leaned toward him. “Because you are, idiot.”
For a few moments, they were silent. They stared at each other, hovering in the strange newness of . . . whatever this was. Their sudden friendship. John’s inexplciable adoration for this brilliant stranger.
Then, suddenly, Sherlock started to pack up his papers, hiding away the pictures and notes.
“Oh,” said John, feeling disappointed. That word again. 'Oh.' He was constantly dumbfounded by Sherlock. “Do you have to go home now?”
“No,” said Sherlock. “Not for a few more hours. I don’t sleep during cases, anyway.”
“Then what are you—”
“We’re going out.”
“We? Do you need to take care of a sibling or someth—”
“No. Just you and me. Right now. I’m not hungry, but you are. I heard your stomach growl a few minutes ago.”
John shook his head. “I’ll eat something here. Let’s stay for a bit.”
“I don’t like the muffins,” said Sherlock, wrinkling his nose. “Have something sweeter. Coffee cake.”
“But you said you weren’t hungry,” said John. “You don’t have to eat what I eat.”
“No,” Sherlock agreed, “but I’ll be able to taste it on you.”
It took a few moments for John to register the implication. When he understood, he smiled.
“You’re planning to kiss me?” he asked, feeling quite giddy all of a sudden.
Sherlock grinned, the joy showing more in his eyes than his lips. “You’ve been staring at my mouth all day, just as you’ve stared at it every day since I started coming here. You like my hands, too.”
John’s cheeks turned pink, but he didn’t say anything. He couldn’t deny it. God, Sherlock’s fingers were so long. If John sucked on them, he’d probably feel them far back in his throat. And that would be nothing compared to sucking—
“Stop fantasizing about me and do something about it.”
John’s stomach flipped happily. He licked his lips.
“Are you saying I have permission to kiss you right now?” he asked.
Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Obviously.”
John stood quickly, pulled Sherlock up by the lapels of his coat, and smashed his lips against Sherlock’s. His mouth was exactly as soft as John had imagined. Humming, John pulled him closer as Sherlock wrapped his arms around John’s waist.
When Sherlock’s eager tongue pressed into his mouth, John sucked on it in imitation of what he wanted to do to other parts of Sherlock’s anatomy. The beautiful growl coming from Sherlock’s throat seemed to indicate that he understood John’s tease. He grabbed John’s arse in both hands and pressed their hips together. Their growing erections twitched.
“Back room,” John whispered, breaking away for air. “The windows . . . people will see . . . could lose my job.”
Sherlock growled again and bit John’s earlobe hard enough to make him wince.
“Hurry,” Sherlock said, his voice lower than usual. “I’ve been waiting for six months. My patience is gone.”
Shivering with want, John grabbed his hand and jogged with him to the storage room in the back. The only furniture, unfortunately, was a series of wooden shelves stocked with boxes full of cups, napkins, dishes, cleaners, and a few food items that didn’t require refrigeration. Sherlock pushed him roughly against one of those shelves and recaptured his mouth.
Within seconds, those long fingers were reaching for John’s belt as Sherlock sucked his bottom lip to fullness, and John was finding Sherlock’s belt too.
“What do you want most?” Sherlock asked, his low voice rumbling in John’s ear.
John’s fingers fumbled in the process of pulling the belt open. He whined.
“You. I don’t know. Anything. This is—it’s so much more than I expected.”
With a deep, rumbling laugh, Sherlock licked the soft spot behind John’s ear and dragged his teeth across the wet skin.
“Will a blowjob suffice, then?”
John let out a helpless sound and grabbed Sherlock’s waist for support, feeling as though his legs would give out. His cock twitched, leaking precome into his pants. “That’s—I—your mouth, it’s so—”
“Good,” Sherlock drawled. He succeeded in opening John’s trousers and slid them, and the pants, to John’s ankles.
Having just managed to figure out Sherlock’s belt, John reached for the buttons of his trousers and was stopped by the fact that Sherlock was already on his knees.
Staring up at him, Sherlock licked at the crease between John’s groin and thigh.
“W-what about you?” John managed to ask, even though he already felt close to coming.
“You can finish me off in a minute,” Sherlock said, his voice sending vibrations across the skin of John’s thigh and straight into his heavy cock.
With no more warning, Sherlock wrapped his warm hand around the base of John’s cock and licked the precome from the tip, humming as if it tasted good.
“Oh God,” said John, grabbing the cabinets behind himself for support.
Sherlock stopped and glared at him. “No. Touch me or nothing at all. Don’t make me restrain your hands.”
John didn’t know whether Sherlock was serious, or how he would use paper cups to hold John’s hands still, but John was not going to question the order. He was about to get a blowjob. He wouldn’t do anything to risk losing that privilege. His hands went to Sherlock’s hair, feeling its surprising softness. John wanted to bury his face in those dark curls.
“You can pull on my hair,” Sherlock said, rubbing his cheek against John’s cock. “I won’t mind.” In one smooth motion, he leaned forward and took half of John’s cock into his mouth at once.
John groaned and fisted his hands in Sherlock’s hair, panting for breath as Sherlock began to move his head. He could feel himself hitting the back of Sherlock’s throat on each bob of his head. This was infinitely better than getting off to the feeling of his own hand.
“Sh—Sherlock,” he whined, panting hard and trying to yank Sherlock’s head away by pulling his hair. “I’m . . . God, I’m already close.”
But Sherlock only sucked harder and moaned, and soon John was coming down his throat. Sherlock coughed a little as the semen went down. Some even dribbled over his chin. John thought it was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen.
Before Sherlock could stand up, John kneeled and licked the mess from Sherlock’s chin. He felt even more affection for the idiot who had swallowed a ton of the salty, bitter mess.
“Let me return the favour,” said John, kissing along Sherlock’s jaw and neck. “I’m not sure I’ll be good at that, but I can try.” He felt a little inadequate. Sherlock clearly had experience performing that act on other men, but John had never gotten past second base with a woman, and tonight was the first time he’d kissed a man.
“Stop looking anxious,” Sherlock told him. “I’ve been practicing, but not on other men. I may have . . . purchased a cucumber or two in anticipation of tonight. You’re my first non-vegetable penis.”
John’s cheeks turned warm. “Two things. One, please don’t call me your 'first penis.' Two, how did you know tonight would even happen? We didn’t plan to even chat until this afternoon, and I had no idea we’d end up . . . doing this.”
“I told you,” said Sherlock. “I’ve been waiting for you to make a move for six months. Now, are you going to wank me or not? It’s starting to hurt.”
“Yes. Of course.” John reached to pull down Sherlock’s trousers and pants, but Sherlock stopped him with a gentle hand on his wrist.
“Only pull down the trousers,” he said. “I want you to make me come in my pants.”
John’s breathing hitched. “You—?”
“Oh, for God’s sake,” said Sherlock. He wiggled down his own trousers, then shoved John’s hand down the front of his pants.
Immediately, John’s fingers wrapped around Sherlock’s cock. It was thinner than his own, but longer. “You really want to make a mess of your only pair of pants?”
Sherlock moaned softly. “Yes.”
Grinning, John moved around so he was kneeling behind Sherlock. It would be a more familiar motion with his wrist from this angle. He spread his right hand across Sherlock’s belly, under his shirt. His left hand wanked Sherlock expertly, using the pressure that make Sherlock shiver and running his palm over the moist glans to spread the wetness around.
In only a couple of minutes, Sherlock was arching his back and clawing at John’s forearms, spilling his semen into his black boxer briefs as he’d wanted.
John extricated his hand and reached for a napkin to clean himself up, but Sherlock caught his wrist and brought the hand to his mouth. He slowly, thoroughly cleaned every drop of semen from John’s hand. If John hadn’t just come, watching that would’ve made him hard.
As they stood and pulled up their trousers, John looked at the wet spot at the front of Sherlock’s pants.
“Are you sure you’re okay like that? I can help you clean up. My flat’s only a couple blocks away if you want a new pair of pants.”
Sherlock chuckled and pulled John in for a sloppy kiss. “Much as I appreciate the offer to see your flat, I’m afraid I have work to do tonight. Need to finish this case. And I think I’ll enjoy walking around with a reminder of you in my pants. Next time, it’ll be you who comes in my pants.”
John blinked up at him, smiling. He didn't even bother asking how he would come in Sherlock's pants. He'd rather be surprised later. “You really have thought this through.”
“Just you wait,” Sherlock said into his ear. “I’ve got the next few months planned out. It’ll never get boring.”
“And you’re that confident I’ll stay with you?” John teased.
“Definitely,” said Sherlock. “I’ll teach you my trick with the cucumbers. I might even let you visit a crime scene with me.”
Laughing, they finished getting dressed. Sherlock collected his things from the dining area. John locked up. They kissed outside the door, then took separate cabs home, promising to see each other the next day.
That night, Molly called John to find out how things went.
“Was he rude?” Molly asked. “Don’t feel bad if he was. He gets in those moods. You’ve heard the stories. Was it tolerable?”
“More than tolerable,” he said. “I think Sherlock will be coming to the shop for a long time.”