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Why are people so tedious? Everything they do, everything they say…they require so much effort for very little (if any) payoff. Small talk is abominable.

'Oh hi, how are you?’  No one actually wants to know the answer to that—they ask so they have an opportunity to talk about themselves.

‘Oh, I’m fine, thanks.’  May as well have said ‘piss off.’ Sends the same message. ‘I’m something but I’m not going to waste the effort explaining what that something is to you.’

Conversation then typically turns to the weather, or local sports teams…

Tedious.

Everyone knows that no one actually cares, but when I act honestly disinterested (instead of lying like everyone else), when I pull back the curtain and shine a light on the truth we all know, I’m the freak.

So says Donovan. And Anderson. Never mind the fact that they willingly engage in the charade, they contract in the absolutely ridiculous social norms along with everyone else. Or that they are sexually involved despite Anderson’s marriage. Another lie. Their minds are one-dimensional, petty…tedious. No wonder nobody actually cares. People are a waste of time.

Molly is looking at me. She’s smiling. Another absurd social custom. Is that supposed to disarm me? To make you endearing to me? Is it to make me ask you how you’re doing, even though I don’t care? Pathetic. Molly does serve a purpose though. She provides me with a distraction on a regular basis. Perhaps not all people are a waste of my time. Molly is convenient. I suppose if she’s smiling at me I should smile back. That’s the rule, isn’t it? One of the few useful people to me on this utterly boring planet. So I smile. Briefly. Continue my work.

“So, bad day, was it?” she asks. Sigh. Interacting is one of the most challenging parts of my day, honestly. Molly, we both know you don’t actually care. Let’s drop the charade.

She’s waiting expectantly for my response.  “I need to know what bruises form in the next twenty minutes. Text me.” Please so I don’t have to keep hiding my eye rolls.

She smiles again. She wants to keep talking even though I’ve so clearly dismissed her. I keep my sigh to myself.

“Listen, I was wondering…” she trails off, fidgets with her (regularly worn and fraying) lab coat. Looks down. Chews on the corner of her (bright red) mouth. All signs that she’s…confused? Uncomfortable? Embarrassed? Shy? She’s shy. Yet she put on lipstick to draw attention to herself. Why, if she’s shy, would she have done that? Whose attention does she want?

“Are you wearing lipstick? You weren’t wearing lipstick before.” Nice, Sherlock, point out the obvious because you can’t just come out and ask her whose attention she wants. (You know whose attention she wants anyway.) Following the rules is so annoying.

Now she’s blushing. I made it worse by asking about it. If I could go back in time and slap myself before making such an utterly useless statement I would.

‘Please, Sherlock, for once in your life, think.’ Shut it, Mycroft. I allow you to exist in my mind palace purely for an alternative perspective, not so you can insult me.

“I just…refreshed it a bit.” She’s gotten the courage to look me in the eye. She wants me to notice. Of course I noticed, Molly…I just don’t care. Am I supposed to care? I don’t care. It’s not relevant. Lipstick or no lipstick, you let me abuse dead bodies for the sake of curiosity. Why should I care whether your lips are red? I’m staring. Now it looks like I am interested in it. Bollocks.

“Sorry, you were saying?” Change the subject. This isn’t useful. I look down at the body below. Already some of my initial swats are showing. Interesting. Mostly over the shoulder blades—thinner fat deposits, less cushioning for the capillaries. Of course they burst quickly. Some swats along the spine are appearing as well. It’s been less than 3 minutes.

(She’s mentioning coffee. Not as useful as nicotine, or cocaine, but more socially acceptable in this setting. Disappointing.) “Black, two sugars please. I’ll be upstairs.” Time to document my early findings. This certainly confirms some of my hypotheses and narrows things down a bit. Four ideas now…

Perhaps I could steal a key. It wouldn’t be difficult. Then I could come back at night to perform my tests. I wouldn’t have to bother with following the rules of social interaction—talking, controlling facial expressions, listening. Boring.  I would have the peace I need to focus.  Do people realize how much they interrupt my thoughts? Do they feel compelled to say whatever they think? It must be for validation. Another tedious tendency of the Commonwealth—the need to feel like someone else understands them. What’s the point? They barely understand themselves. Why would anyone else be able to? (I certainly don’t ever expect anyone to understand me.)

The door to the lab just opened. I don’t need to look up to know it’s Mike, with a…friend? No, acquaintance. Mike is smiling. He looks proud of himself. Simple man, Mike. Little wins are the purpose of his life. He’s brought me a flat mate. I’m almost impressed how quickly he found someone. It must be someone he knows well enough to recommend but not someone he cares too much for, or he wouldn’t try to set him up with such an annoying git (me). I barely glance towards them. Not even an acknowledgment, merely a flick of my gaze in their direction. What did Mike bring me?

Military. Obvious. Psychosomatic limp. The cane is irrelevant and ages him. Doctor. Mike knows him from Barts. He seems totally comfortable in this lab. Not overly interested in it—desensitized. Someone less familiar with the setting would look around more, touch things, ask questions. Not this one—not our military doctor trained at Barts and wounded overseas. He stands at near-attention, vigilant but appearing disinterested. One glance and I can tell there’s a deadly side to him, a simmering anger. He holds contempt for his status currently, for being forced to exist amongst the civilians of the world.

He belongs in battle.

One miscalculation brought him to this lab where he looks simultaneously bored and totally alert.  Fascinating.

Wait.

Fascinating? What an absurd thought. He’s just a man. Men aren’t fascinating, unless they’re serial killers. This one isn’t a serial killer. He’s just a man. Why can’t I stop looking at him?

‘Sherlock…focus on what’s important.’ Yes, Mycroft. Of course Mycroft.

Twat.

“Mike, can I borrow your phone? No signal on mine.” (Distract me please.)

“What’s wrong with the land line?” He retorts. Internal eye rolls will be the death of me.

“I’d rather text.” Less faking in a text. People expect brevity—no tone to interpret. Of course, he doesn’t have it. How can this man be a doctor, caring for the health of other humans and teaching future generations of doctors and still somehow FORGET what coat his phone is in? It is utterly—

“Here. Use mine,” my new flat mate offers. Curious.

Everything about this man is a contradiction. He trusts no one but just handed me his (brother’s former) phone so I could text someone he doesn’t know about something he won’t understand. I look him in the eye. I can see that this gesture is uncommon for him. Perhaps uncomfortable? No, he’s relaxed. Leaning on his (not actually) bad leg and giving me a curt (but real?) smile.

“Oh, thank you.” I respond.

‘Really, Sherlock? Manners? You’ve barely met the man, why afford him such a courtesy? You’re distracted. Focus.’ If strangling you, Mycroft, would erase you completely, it still wouldn’t satisfy me.

“…John Watson,” Mike finishes. He was introducing him to me. What a simple name for a complicated man. Old friend? That’s generous. Another contradiction. Quite the puzzle.

“Afghanistan or Iraq?” I query.  For the first time, his guard truly drops, eyes widen. I’ve shocked him. Ooh, I like this part. This is when people decide about me.

“I’m sorry?” His tone is both curious…and a warning. I can’t help myself.

“Which was it? Afghanistan or Iraq?” I do that thing where I waggle my eyebrows. A challenge. Anderson hates it. Everyone hates it. Go on, correct me. Tell me to piss off. Call me a freak. I’m not following the rules. I’m ignoring social norms and asking about something terribly personal and probably inappropriate. I haven’t even introduced myself. A military man is all about rules, conformity…he must hate me already.

“Afghanistan. I’m sorry, how did you…” He’s intrigued. Interesting. I’ve purposely assaulted his privacy and he wants to understand how. Not why. He doesn’t seem annoyed even, just curious.

Mike, well done you.

Molly has finally arrived with my coffee. Lipstick gone. Too bad—made her mouth more defined. Wasted effort given the intended audience, however. For the better I suppose. Time to finalize my flat share. Perhaps Mike is smarter than he seems.

“How do you feel about the violin?”

As we go back and forth, him asking me questions and me showing him all the things I already know about him, I wait for the rejection. For most, it starts slowly. Forms as disbelief at first. ‘It must be a magic trick’ they think. I can hear their thoughts through their expressions as though they’ve shouted them at me. Then, as I continue, disbelief morphs into irritation—‘How could you possibly guess all that?’ More shouting in my face. Irritation turns into frustration when they can’t work it out for themselves. ‘How are you so clever?’ (That’s the censored version of their thoughts—the part I wish was true but know isn’t. The real version is more along the lines of ‘stop it arsehole!’) Finally, contempt. The scene ends as, once again, they hate me for what I know.

“Is that it?” John asks. What’s that expression? He’s…surprised. Is he surprised? Why is he surprised? Why doesn’t he hate me already? (Everyone else does)

“Is that what?” I should have been listening more closely (instead of just showing off? Was I showing off? Of course I was).

“We’ve just met and we’re going to go and look at a flat?” He’s still just surprised. I’ve ruffled his feathers. He doesn’t seem to mind it, though.  Perhaps…

“Problem?” I’m teasing. He can tell. His eyebrows rise slightly. He can feel the challenge in my voice. His shoulders square as he keeps eye contact—accepting the challenge.

Well, this is interesting. I really do owe Mike for this one.

‘Sher—‘ MYCROFT I SWEAR YOU WILL KEEP QUIET. Let me have my fun.

This is the final test for my new flat mate, his last chance to reject me completely (as everyone else does).

(I hope he doesn’t.)

Deep breath. Keep his gaze. Show him the worst of it.

Wait.

He isn’t looking away. He seems to be standing even taller. Completely ignoring his (fake) leg pain. I can’t help but smile. The soldier. Hard lines everywhere except his eyes. (Are they smiling back at me?) (No of course not.)

Time to leave. Much to do. Moving takes time.

“The name’s Sherlock Holmes, and the address is 221B Baker St. Afternoon.”

Chapter Text

I can see him. He’s standing outside the flat, shoulders stiff, leaning on his (irrelevant) cane and considering ringing the doorbell. He seems hesitant. Interesting. He’s been in battle, responsible for saving lives and yet he’s hesitating to ring a bell? Maybe he’s unsure… of what? Himself? The flat? (Me?) Does he think I wasn’t serious about the flat share? Is regretting coming here at all? (I hope not--I am serious.)

The cab stops. I get out, pay, and face him. “Hi,” I say to catch his attention. ‘Hi,’ really? I’m a genius amongst men and the first thing I can think of is ‘Hi’? Pathetic.  He looks surprised. He did think I wasn’t going to show. (I thought he wasn’t going to show. Why would he? I’m not the most inviting person to be around.)

“Mr. Holmes!” he greets. I barely suppress my smirk at such formality. His face relaxes, lips curl ever so slightly into a smile. Is he...happy to see me? (No one ever is.) He’s mocking me. Is he mocking me? No, that’s not something he would do. He’s a military man, full of restraint, customs, rigid rules of behavior--the complete opposite of me. Everything he does is genuine, never an ulterior motive.

I’m staring. Why does he distract me so much? (Pull it together.)

‘He’s waiting....,’ Mycroft taunts .

“Sherlock, please,” I correct him, interrupting my internal commentary. I’m distracted enough with my own thoughts--I don’t need Mycroft too. I need to focus. While he did choose to meet me here, he could still choose to leave. I need to observe everything and ensure I’m...what? Interesting? (Easy.) Clever? (Always.) Not a prick? (More challenging.) Why do I care? Do I care? (I do.) I feel oddly unsure of myself around him. Why do I feel like this?

I know why. When I’m... me ...people leave. Well, to be fair, first they insult me with that all too recognizable expression of disgust and then they leave. I’ve learned that no one wants me as I am, so why waste the effort on trying? I can only keep the charade up for so long before I make one too many deductions and off they pop.

So why am I trying so hard with our dear Mr. Watson?

‘You know why. Be careful, Sherlock,’ Mycroft warns. WOULD YOU PLEASE SHUT UP?

He steps closer to me, still the hint of a smile on his lips. “Prime spot. Got to be expensive,” he comments before ringing the bell.

Need to explain--don’t want him intimidated by the location or potential price. I know an army doctor’s pension can’t afford a place like this, and so does he. “Mrs. Hudson, the landlady. She’s giving me a special deal. She owes me a favour--few years ago, her husband got himself sentenced to death in Florida. I was able to help out.” I raise my eyebrows at him--an unspoken ‘What do you think?’ His eyes darken infinitesimally, the skin around them tightening as they narrow. He doesn’t believe me. Of course he doesn’t. He knows nothing about me and so far all I’ve said are frankly ridiculous things.

“You stopped her husband being executed,” he states calmly. Of course he would assume that I would be like that . (Like what? Honorable? Nice? Helpful? I’m none of those things.) He’s being kind. He must be naturally kind--I’ve given him no reason to assume I’m any of these things nor deserving of such kindness. He must really be desperate for a flat share.

“Oh no, I ensured it,” I respond, unable to hide my gleeful smile. The man deserved to die--he was not only abusive, he was also an idiot. Purely a waste of matter. I watch my flat mate’s face, waiting for the frown, the disgust...it never comes. Only a slight wrinkle between his eyebrows as he considers what I’ve said. Even as we stand together, waiting on Mrs. Hudson, I notice how he leans less on his (still irrelevant) cane. Curious--it’s as if being around me makes him forget about it? No, that’s absurd. I’ve only observed him for a total of approximately 7.5 minutes, I don’t have nearly enough data to make such a deduction. It is psychosomatic, and it may very well be that social interaction of any kind makes him focus less on the (not) bad leg. Is my ego so starved that I try to assign such events to my ability to merely be present? Pathetic.

The door flies open, interrupting my self deprecating ramble. Mrs. Hudson throws her arms around my neck, exclaiming, “Sherlock!” as if I’m the best surprise she’s had all year. (Never mind the fact I phoned her ahead of time.) As she pulls away, I notice him watching us carefully. His eyes are soft again, similar to how they looked when we were at Barts. I meet his gaze and barely tilt my head towards the door. An invitation. (Terrifying.)

Come in, John Watson.

 

* * *

 

Mrs. Hudson opens the door to our flat, which is (of course) already filled with my belongings. The moment I left Barts I called my abominable brother and commanded him to move my things here.

“Really Sherlock, you’re sure?” Mycroft asked me, the edge of a taunt in his voice.

“I won’t repeat myself. Have it done before 7 tomorrow evening. I have a new--”
“Oh yes, I’m aware of the prospective flat mate, brother mine,” he interrupted. He’s always interrupting me, trying to prove himself the smart one. It took all my patience not to hang up and hurl my phone into the Thames.

“Then you know he’s meeting me and I need to be settled beforehand. Don’t ruin this for me Mycroft,” I could barely conceal the venom in my voice.

“I’m just warning you Sherlock--be careful. You know what happened the last time you got...involved…” His false sentiment was abhorrent. God let me get off this phone, I barely refrained from screaming.

“Mycroft, we both know you would love to watch me fail--don’t bother acting like you’re trying to protect me from it,” I spat. “7pm tomorrow.” I hung up before he could goad me further. He’s such a bloody--

“Well, this could be very nice. Very nice indeed,” John’s voice breaks through before I can continue my internal sibling loathing, snapping me back to the present. I look towards him as he wanders around the flat, making appreciative humming noises. (I wonder if he realizes he does that? Seems subconscious. Why am I noticing when he probably isn’t aware of it? Perplexing.)

He’s looking at me, expecting a response--eyebrows raised, a glint in his (blue) eyes. (I noticed his eye color too. Why? Clearly just part of my normal observations.) (Is it though?) (Yes of course it is. Shut up and focus.)

“Yes I think so. My thoughts exactly,” I respond. “So I went ahead and moved--”

“Soon as we get all this rubbish cleaned--”

“In,” I finish.

“Out,” he says quietly. “So this is all--”

Oh no.

( Idiot! ) (Knew this would happen.) (Mycroft was right.) (Never going to tell him. I’ll just say he never showed.) (Mycroft will know anyway.) ( Shit. ) (Maybe I can salvage…)

“Obviously I can straighten things up a bit,” I blurt out. I’m panicked. Why am I panicked? I don't panic. It’s just a flat. I can try to find someone else. (I don’t want someone else.) Maybe Mike can help again, or…

“That’s a skull,” John remarks, pointing. I dare to look at his face, expecting anything but what I find. He’s amused. Is he? He is. I’m...amusing? Maybe he’s patronizing me.

‘Don’t get your hopes up, Sherlock, they never stick around for long,’ Mycroft reminds me. Why don’t you do me a massive favour and follow suit then, brother dear?

“Friend of mine. Well, I say friend…,” but let’s be honest, I don’t have friends .

Mrs. Hudson is back, interrupting to discuss the second bedroom with John. I watch them talk, see the obvious ease with which John holds himself. Again, he’s forgotten about his leg. I’m looking forward to proving my point about it, if we get that far. (Maybe then he’ll find me useful? Useful enough to stay…?) My attention barely drifts back to their conversation as I hear my name.  “Oh, Sherlock, the mess you’ve made,” Mrs Hudson titters as she continues straightening the living room. Pointless, really--I know where everything is, even if no one else understands the system I use.

“Looked you up on the internet last night,” John states evenly. I glance up sharply. Why did he look me up? Does he find me interesting? (Annoying?) What did he find? I’ve never bothered to look myself up. Figured all I’d find is a couple old news stories detailing some of my less...attractive pastimes. (God I hope he didn’t find any of those.) He probably did, why else would he bring it up? Maybe now is when he is going to confront me about everything and then laugh in my face. ‘ Flat mates? Really? Who would ever be flat mates with someone like you?’ He’d say.

Then I’d be alone again.

At least it’d be less effort.

Maybe I’d be happier.

(No, I wouldn’t.)

I blink slowly. Time to face the music. “Anything interesting?” I work up the courage to ask.

He smiles. “Found your website--The Science of Deduction.”

Shutter blink. Not what I was expecting. He’s still smiling. HIs eyes are (still) soft, a crinkle forming near them. He either didn’t find or doesn’t care about any old news stories. (Maybe Mycroft…)

‘Oh, little brother, don’t flatter yourself…’ Hush you. I’m busy.

“What did you think?” I fidget with a pen, try not to look like I really care. (I do.) It’s irrelevant what he thinks anyway. (No it’s not.)

He seems genuinely interested, eyebrows raised and head tilted slightly as he answers. (He’s barely touching that ridiculous cane--maybe it is me after all? He continues to improve the longer we interact...hmm.)

“You said you could identify a software designer by his tie, and an airline pilot by his left thumb,” he states somewhat incredulously. Still not irritated. Fascinating.

I want to look away as I respond so I can ignore the way his face clouds when I explain (like everyone always looks before they reject me) but something in me won’t allow it. So I stare, unblinking, as I say what I expect will end this fantasy. “Yes, and I can read your military career in your face and your leg, and the drinking habits of your brother in your mobile phone.”

His face isn’t clouding--instead it seems more...open? Curious? Why is he curious?

“How?” he asks.

He’s different .

Perhaps I really have found myself a new flat mate (until I bugger it up anyway).

Mrs. Hudson picks up a newspaper from the floor and asks me about the most recent police blunder. Serial suicides? Utterly ridiculous. Can’t believe Lestrade went with that. Even for him that’s pathetic. Of course it’s not serial suicides…

And there’s been something new. I knew they’d come. I can hear the police car park outside, the uniform boots crunching on the sidewalk. They always leave the car running when they come for me and the engine is more powerful than a cab. Lestrade skips the bottom step every time, as if the police move expediently . Hilarious.

“Where?” I ask Lestrade as he appears, out of breath.

“Brixton, Lauriston Gardens,” he responds, face pleading. He really needs me this time. (He always does.) We discuss and negotiate. I do my best to hide my excitement while I keep John in my periphery--what does he think about all this? The moment the DI entered the room, he straightened, face became impassive and eyes hardened. The barely noticeable tremor in his hand vanished, and I have a hunch that if I stole his cane he would be able to run a 6 minute mile. As much as I want to continue unraveling the mystery that is John Watson, I simply cannot pass up four ‘serial suicides’ and now a note.

I barely wait for Lestrade to leave before allowing my joy to erupt.  ”BRILLIANT!”

What a distraction! A puzzle to solve! Oh, the norepinephrine is already pumping through my veins. My vision is sharper, my heart is pounding, my fingers are tingling--this is better than any artificial high I’ve had in recent memory!

“And I thought it was going to be a boring evening. Serial suicides and now a note--Oh it’s Christmas!”

My thoughts are already spinning--why did this one leave a note? Why didn’t the others? It can’t possibly be serial suicides. Serial murders? Not enough evidence although balance of probability states a serial murderer attempting to cover his tracks is much more likely than all these deaths being suicides. They die the same way but that’s where the similarities end. I’ve been reading about the victims in my free time--nothing in common that I can see just yet. Of course I haven’t had access to the case files yet so--

“Mrs. Hudson, I’ll be late--might need some food,” I add as I’m nearly out the door. She responds with something trivial like that she’s “not my housekeeper” but I barely hear her. “Something cold is fine!” I add.

John.

“John make yourself at home--” (please don’t leave) “--have a cuppa! Don’t wait up!” I take the stairs two at a time, my Belstaff flying behind me. As I get to the door I pause.

John.

I’m abandoning him.

‘Don’t be silly--there’s no reason to feel connected to him, Sherlock.’ Mycroft you may be right but I don’t have to admit it.

Is he right?

(I feel connected.) (Pathetic.)

I listen.

“Damn my leg!” he yells.

May as well have called my name.

Did it start acting up the moment I left? Maybe I’m not the only one craving a distraction. I turn and head quietly back up the stairs. (I hope I’m right…)

He’s sitting stiffly in the chair I brought in for him. Of course he doesn’t know that yet--that it’s his chair. Not the best way to keep a potential flat mate that you’ve only just met. ‘Oh, and I picked up this chair for you because it matches the length of your legs. Should be perfectly comfortable.’ Not creepy at all.

I stand just inside the doorway. “You’re a doctor,” I state. (Obviously. Honestly. )

He startles and faces me. His eyes are still a bit cold from his earlier irritation with his leg, but they pick up an additional quality...excitement? He is excited. Barely--trying to hide it from me. He’s afraid he’ll slow me down.

Ooh, this is going to be fun. He’s so very wrong.

“In fact, you’re an army doctor,” I murmur, my voice lowering of its own accord. I can feel his excitement. Another hit of norepinephrine floods my system.

His voice is steady as he answers me. “Yes.”

I move closer. “Any good?” I ask (unnecessarily). Of course he’s good. I don’t need any evidence to work that out--I just know it.

“Very good,” he responds.We are staring at each other. This...feeling...between us is palpable. (Why do I feel like this? It’s terrifying.) He’s standing now, nearly at attention. Again, the soldier .

“Seen a lot of injuries then. Violent deaths?” Nonchalance--this can’t be what I think it is. Calm down.

“Well, yes,” he replies.

Still staring, still acting like it’s nothing. “Bit of trouble too, I bet.” (Obviously, Sherlock. Really?

Just ask him.)

He smirks. “Of course, yes. Enough for a lifetime. Far too much...,” he trails off.

You may fool everyone else but you can’t fool me, John Watson.

“Want to see some more?” I practically purr.

“Oh, God, yes!” he very nearly begs.

I don’t bother hiding my grin. “Get your coat,” I command while heading back towards the door.

Correction--THIS is better than any artificial high I’ve had in recent memory.

Chapter Text

We arrive at Brixton and reluctantly exit the warmth of the cab. As I walk towards the police tape, I can’t help but replay our ride over from Baker Street. 

We sat close. 

Very close. 

Too close? 

No, he would have moved. Our thighs were nearly touching. I could almost calculate his body temperature (36.33 degrees Celsius approximately). As he asked me questions about where we were headed and what I do, my senses were overwhelmed with observations of John. 

His breath, slow and even. Deep. As he considered my statements, he occasionally exhaled sharply in amusement or hummed in approval. (Approval? I think so) 

His hand--resting on his left knee (closest to me). Index finger tapping lightly, joined every few moments by his other calloused but nimble digits in a chorus of random beats. 

Not morse code. 

Not binary. 

As if he’d tell me some secret message with his fingers? Ridiculous thought. 

Every breath I took filled my nose with his scent--musk, sweat, tea, hint of British Sterling cologne, fabric softener...I could feel the different aromas melding--imagined them coating the inside walls of my lungs with their various molecules. Absorbed by my alveoli, entering my bloodstream. Being invaded by him. 

Periodically I could feel the slight pressure change on our shared seat, indicating a flex of his quadricep muscle. Subconscious, most likely. Seemed to happen every time I talked. (Purely coincidence, I’m sure) (Was it?) (Of course it was. Why would he tense when I spoke?) (Absurd) 

‘That was...amazing,’ he said. 

Amazing. 

He said I was amazing. 

Well, he said my deductions were amazing. Obviously. (Not necessarily me) He stared into my eyes, unblinking, as he said it. (Did he mean me?) 

Amazing. 

I felt the heat creeping up my neck as he kept my gaze...I had to force myself to look away as I continued our conversation. (What is wrong with me?) 

‘Do you think so?’ I couldn’t help but ask. (Please say yes…) 

‘Well of course it was. It was extraordinary. Quite extraordinary,’ he replied, smiling as I glanced back towards him, the all-too-familiar crinkles forming in the corners of his eyes. 

I need to stop staring at him. I’ve catalogued every feature of his face in the short time I’ve known him. (Dangerous) Granted, I catalog every person I meet, but this feels...different. (Definitely dangerous) 

“Hello Freak,” Donovan greets me, breaking my reverie. On the best days, Donovan is merely irritating. Today, however...she’s downright hateful. I refocus my thoughts on the end of our cab ride, replicating John’s chuckle in my mind as I attempt to remain somewhat civil with the sergeant. She finally relents, about to let me in when she notices John standing behind me. 

“Who’s this?” she asks pointedly. 

(Don’t make a scene in front of him) How do I describe him? What is he to me? Why is this so difficult? Nothing is difficult for me. (This is absurd) Get it together Sherlock. 

Colleague. I’ll introduce him as my colleague. Don’t want to assume. Can’t call him…(friend? Flat mate? Assistant? or…) Colleague it is. 

“Colleague of mine, Dr. Watson,” I state, acting calmer than I feel. I turn towards John--he’s eyeing me somewhat suspiciously. “Dr Watson, Sergeant Sally Donovan. Old friend,” I add sarcastically, suppressing a giggle. 

Donovan continues her hateful behaviour and comments, I defend John’s right to join me (you will not take this from me Sally Donovan) and we head towards the house. My mind is a swirl of observations and deductions. Dark--too dark--abandoned. Somewhat run down, but not in major disrepair. Recently abandoned then. No major traffic nearby--off the main road. No other residences. Perfect setting for a murder. Surprised anyone even found the body. 

Anderson. Dreadful . Waste of my time. How he became a forensics examiner is beyond me. He is completely irrelevant. Of course he tries to show off, challenge me in front of his lover (Donovan) to accomplish what exactly? To prove his masculinity? Pathetic. A few quick cutting deductions and he’s ushering us inside to get me to shut up. I steal a glance at John--will he think me unkind? No, he’s smirking, cheeks taut as he attempts to keep it from Anderson. He catches me looking and doesn’t bother hiding his bemused expression any longer. I feel like I’m sharing a secret joke with him as I hold his gaze. 

Well, hello, norepinephrine. Thank you for joining us on this lovely evening and for this simply delightful crime scene. Cheers! 

‘You’re sure it’s the crime scene triggering it?’ Mycroft murmurs in my mind. 

Not responding, Mycroft. Either assist me, or keep it down. 

‘And what exactly do you think I’m trying to do, little brother?’  

Prick. 

My attention returns to our surroundings as we enter the building. Lestrade meets us in a frankly disgusting kitchen. I once again defend John’s presence as necessary (it is, obviously) and we enter the room with the body. 

As I fly through my deductions I’m acutely aware of John’s proximity. My thoughts drift back to the cab--his body heat, slow breathing, tap-tap-tapping of his fingers, his scent, his periodically tense thigh, mere centimetres from my own, the way his body shook as he chuckled.

 'Amazing,’ he said. 

‘Extraordinary.’ 

No one uses those words to describe me. 

(Why does he? What makes him so different?) 

Lestrade and Anderson return to interrupt my musings with their utterly wrong assumptions about our dead woman. I tolerate them briefly before turning to John. 

“Dr. Watson, what do you think?” I ask. His eyes widen as if to ask me if I’m serious. (Yes of course I am) (You have no idea how much I care what you think) 

Do I care? 

(Obviously) 

Shit. 

He clears his throat. “Of the message?” he asks, indicating the note left by the woman before she died. 

“Of the body, you’re a medical man,” I clarify. As Lestrade interjects, I use approximately 10% of my attention arguing with him while the rest remains squarely on John. He’s hesitantly watching us, unsure of his role here. I nod at the body--a command. Lestrade’s given up at this point. Stiffly, John kneels--leg bothering him. He glances toward me, and I kneel across from him, our foreheads nearly touching. I feel the flush in my cheeks at his proximity and silently damn my physiology for its flamboyant display. He looks me in the eye and I swear I can hear his breath catch. (Imagined it, mostly likely) 

“Well?” I ask quietly. 

“What am I doing here?” he whispers somewhat gruffly, eyes locked on my face. I watch as he licks his lips, the tip of his tongue barely sneaking out. 

‘For GOD’S SAKE, Sherlock, FOCUS!’ 

Mycroft, I’m trying. 

‘Are you?’ 

SHUT UP

I tear my gaze away from his lips. “Helping me make a point,” I respond, whispering and glancing back towards Lestrade. He seems to catch my meaning, then frowns slightly. Exasperation? Probably. (Not the first time I’ve seen that expression on someone’s face in regard to me) 

“I’m supposed to be helping you pay the rent,” he states quietly. 

He’s staying. He’s accepted. 

Really? Is that what he means? Is he saying yes? (God I hope so) 

I put my most mischievous expression on--right eyebrow raised, corners of my mouth curled slightly in a smirk, eyes narrowed. “Yeah, this is more fun,” I murmur in reply. 

“Fun?? There is a woman lying dead!” he barely refrains from shouting. 

I can’t help but tease. “Perfectly sound analysis, but I was hoping you’d go deeper.” 

When John Watson blushes, the tips of his ears turn pink. 

I just made John Watson blush. 

??????????????

How? Really? I did. I did? He’s blushing. No, can’t be. Is he? 

What? 

Why? 

Really!? 

I stare at him as he blinks slowly...once, twice...and then turns toward the body between us to begin providing his medical analysis. I’m listening, barely. I can’t seem to tear my eyes away from the tips of his (still pink) ears. I can feel my lips moving, hear my voice as we discuss the woman on the floor, but I can’t pull myself away from the fact (???) that I made John Watson blush

My brain, thankfully, doesn’t need my full attention to spew my deductions at Lestrade, who’s gaping like a bloody fish. John is looking at me again, cheeks still showing a hint of vasodilation. (I did that) 

The case, Sherlock,’ Mycroft interrupts. I know I’m on a case, you twit. I can think about two things at once. 

‘No…,’ he chides. 

WHAT, MYCROFT?! 

‘The suitcase…,’ he taunts. 

Oh. Oh! 

Lestrade and John are both staring at me. 

“There wasn’t a case,” Lestrade states quietly. 

Of course. I was right. Serial murderer. I have to find her suitcase. 

There should have been a case, the signs of it were obvious. There’s no case. He took it. Well, I say he--serial murderers are rarely female. If I find the case, I’ll find him. 

What an idiot. Is he ready to be caught? Oh, how I adore serial killers--always something to look forward to. They think they’re so clever, but they can’t hide from the fact that they thrive on recognition for being so clever. (I can identify with that…) 

I’m out the door and down the street less than two minutes after the rest of the New Scotland Yard confirm the lack of a bright pink suitcase at the crime scene. 

(Pink…) 

I’ll find it, and then I’ll find him. 

‘You’re forgetting something…’ 

I don’t forget things, Mycroft. 

Chapter Text

Found the case. Obviously.

Took me barely an hour. For someone so clever our serial murderer didn’t do a very thorough job disposing of it.

As I enter the flat and toss the case on the coffee table, it hits me.

I’m alone. I feel my stomach churn. Nausea. Increased salivation. Tachycardia. Fingertips tingling. Diaphoresis on my palms, back of the neck. Cutis anserina covering my arms.

John. I left him. I left him at the crime scene in a manic fit of impulsivity because of a bloody pink suitcase.

I forgot something.

I don’t forget things.

I forget people.

I forgot him.

I forgot John.

Shit.

In the moment it didn’t even occur to me. I’m so used to being alone in everything I do. Would he have followed me if I let him? Maybe. (Probably not)

Well he certainly won’t ever want to go to a crime scene with me again now. (Knew I’d bugger it up)

It’s been nearly two hours since I saw him last. More than enough time to return to the flat…

He didn’t.

Maybe he won’t.

Is this it?

‘Is that it?’ he asked me back at the lab at Barts. ‘We’ve just met and we’re going to go and look at a flat?’

Somehow I thought that it would be enough. That this would be different.

(It felt different.)

Was it?

Of course not, clearly.

(Is it ever actually different?)

No. It isn’t. (Idiot)

I should look through the case, find clues about our victim. I unzip it and start going through the dead woman’s belongings. Perfectly ordinary. Definitely an overnight bag--one change of clothes, barely any toiletries. ‘Perfectly sound analysis, but I was hoping you’d go deeper…’

His ears turned pink.

The look on his face as he stared at me, blinking slowly, flushed. (It felt different this time)

The tip of his tongue, sneaking out between his lips briefly, wetting them.

Why?

His pupils dilated as he stared at me. Probably because the building had such poor lighting. (Was it?) Undoubtedly why. (Was it?!)

I need to concentrate. I’m standing here like an idiot, my hands on a dead woman’s underwear. I need assistance. Chemical assistance. I head to my bedroom and open the top drawer of my bureau to grab it. Nicotine patches. If I’m going to reason through the case of the pink lady and the case of John Watson, I’m going to need to enhance my thinking capacity by at least two...no, three patches.

This is a three patch problem.

John Watson is a three patch problem.

(I need to understand it.)

No, I need to understand me.

What is going on with me? I’ve never felt so...distracted in my life. John Watson is a superior distraction--WHY!?

Why is he different?

It’s been exactly 5 minutes. The nicotine has entered my system. I can feel my thoughts speed up commensurately.

Evidence. Data. Must--

Not annoyed. (Yet?) I hope--

Smiling. (Exactly 15 times so far)

(Nearly constant) eye contact.

Came to flat. Seemed interested. (?)

Website--amusement? Disbelief? (Still not annoyed) No news stories? Or doesn’t care--

Excitement--crime scene. Begged to come--did he? Yes.

Amazing. Extraordinary. Not mocking. Military--genuine--honest.

Limp--psychosomatic--improves during... social interaction? Me? Danger? Norepinephrine? Obvious--norepinephrine decreases pain sensation/improves pain tolerance as a side effect during the amygdala response in the sympathetic nervous system--evolutionary biology to provide improved capacity to keep self alive in threatening situations.

Do I seem dangerous?

Norepinephrine also = excitement.

Am I exciting?

Is...danger exciting? (It is for me)

Am I exciting because I’m dangerous?

He belongs in battle--saw it on his face. Bored/alert. Tense. Ready to react--no threats to react to. Seeking a distraction from the mundane.

(Like me)

He is different. Relevant.

I forgot him.

‘Fix it.’

Can I?

‘Try.’

How?

‘Think.’

I am.

‘Think harder.’

I AM, MYCROFT.

Text. Don’t have his number. Need to get it.

Stamford.

Check the phone--don’t have his number.

Why don’t have I have his number?

People are tedious. Annoying.

Wait.

I’m being tedious. Exasperating.

Standing on the coffee table, scroll through my phone. [Lestrade, Mycroft, Speedy’s]

Oh no.

Maybe I can find it somewhere else. I have to. It must be somewhere. (Of course it won’t be.)

Sigh. The ceiling has that abominable texture to it--tiny non-uniform bumps. There are 785/square meter. 10,990 in this room. 10,990 irritating chunks of plaster above me.

‘You’re stalling…’

Obviously.

Glance at my phone.

>>Mycroft

     >>Send message

<Give me his number. -SH>

Two minutes 37 seconds.

Ding!

<Busy.>

Step off the coffee table.

<Give it to me. -SH>

<Patience, brother mine.>

<NOW. -SH>

<Why?>

<Do it. -SH>

<Busy.>

My phone makes a satisfying crunching sound as it hits the wall before sliding down behind the couch. I close my eyes. Breathe.

I need a distraction.

Wander into the kitchen--poke at a few cultures. Nothing new to observe. Open fridge. Skin samples from post-mortem lashing. No new discolorations. Interesting to see how much cellular damage in the adipocytes--

‘Is this relevant at the moment?’

Well, Mycroft, considering you’re being such an annoying git at the moment, what else am I to do?

'How do you know I haven’t responded?’

Close the fridge. Stalk through the living room, past John’s chair. Zip up the pink case and throw it behind me. Barely hear the dull thud as it lands on the rug since I’m busy shoving aside the coffee table. Hurl myself at the couch to fling it out of my way. Where is that bloody phone?!

“Sherlock?” Mrs. Hudson calls from downstairs. Must have heard the commotion. Not now, please not now. Busy. “Everything all right dear?”

“Fine, Mrs. Hudson,” I respond. “I’m fine, perfectly fine. Go back to your telly.”

“You’re sure…?” I can hear her start to walk towards the stairs. NOT. NOW.

“Mrs. Hudson!” I yell. “I’m fine! Privacy, please!”

She mutters something to herself about my inability to use manners and her door shuts. I keep scanning the floor for my--

Found it--screen intact, buttons functional...battery missing. Must have popped off when I threw it. Continue searching--THERE! Near my bedroom doorway.

It clicks into place (thankfully) and I hold down the power switch.

Work.

(Please)

Work.

WORK!

Yes! The screen flickers to life and I release the breath I didn’t realize I was holding.

One new message.

>>Mycroft

<Here you are. Behave.>

I save the number to my phone. I should text him. (Should I?)

Why didn’t he come back?

(He doesn’t want--)

I forgot him.

Stupid!

Military--no one left behind. I left him.

Maybe he thought I don’t want him anymore (to help pay the rent obviously). (Is it?) Focus.

I do want him to come back.

I should apologize. I don’t apologize. (I should)

My foot hits the suitcase on the floor. Didn’t realize I was pacing around, staring at his name in my phone. The flat is in disarray, couch blocking the doorway and coffee table on its side by the window. Should fix it in case he comes back.

‘Leaving it to chance?’

I…

No. I’m not.

>>John Watson

     >>Send message

<Baker Street. Come at once if convenient. -SH>>

Wait. Pace. Fix couch and coffee table. Sit in my chair, knees to my chest. Wait.

Why is this taking so long? (2 minutes 12 seconds)

>>John Watson

     >>Send message

<If inconvenient come anyway.>

There. He should respond, even if just to say ‘piss off.’

Still no response. It’s been exactly 4 minutes and 23 seconds. Maybe I’m not saying the right--

Oh.

Danger. Norepinephrine. Distraction.

Relevance.

He needs it to be relevant to him. Then he’ll come.

>>John Watson

     >>Send message

<Could be dangerous.>

Wait.

Waiting is hateful.

Chapter Text

Barely keeping it together. Maybe--tea. Should make some tea. That ought to provide me with a suitable, albeit brief, distraction.

Stride into the kitchen--need a mug. I stare at the cluttered counters--every space occupied with laboratory equipment.

Must have a mug somewhere.

Check the table--more equipment.

Still no bloody--

Ah--there. From earlier--Mrs Hudson was going to make tea for John. Never needed to. Did she even get the kettle out? Or did I interfere too quickly, whisking him off to the crime scene…

Where I left him…

Stupid.

Find the kettle. No use dwelling. Irrelevant. Find the kettle, make a cuppa, wait. (Abhorrent) Necessary.

Patience…’

This is all your fault, Mycroft.

Is it now?’

Of course it is. It was your bloody idea in the first place that I even try to get a flat mate. ‘It’ll be good for you,’ you said. ‘Someone to keep you distracted, keep tabs on you since you seem to hate it when I try to do it.’

You do it anyway so what's the bloody point?! Always interfering, always trying to keep me from--

‘What?’

EXISTING.

‘Never would imagine it.’

Oh please. If I wasn't around then you'd never again have to remind everyone that you're the smart one--you just WOULD BE and I'd be your dead junkie little brother. Don't try to deceive me with the illusion of caring-- ’caring is not an advantage,’ right Myc?! Isn't that what you always say? Then why bother with me? All I do is create problems for you--so much so that you feel the need to push me towards getting a flat mate--a bloody HANDLER to keep me out of trouble and out of your way.

The mug hits the kitchen table harder than I expect, causing a few test tubes to clatter against each other. I stalk across the flat and snatch up my violin.

PISS OFF MYCROFT.

François Schubert. L’Abeille.

Your favorite .

I fly through it, fingers tingling as I play it a full 30bpm faster than it's intended, at the loudest volume I can muster. The violin is shaking (or is that my hands?) as I saw away at it with my bow.

I barely hear Mrs Hudson from downstairs as I finish the wretched piece--she's shouting something about what time it is.

I know what time it is.

John’s still not returned.

I place the violin back in the case and flop down onto the couch to continue the dreadful task of waiting.

My thoughts are swirling.

Nicotine--John--Mycroft--PINK--John--

(Pathetic)

I hear the door knocker. Mrs Hudson leaves her flat to answer it.

He came back.

(Terrified he wouldn't.)

I put on an excellent show of course--laying on the couch, "deep in thought" and explaining to our good doctor that "it" is a three patch problem.

Don't need to clarify what "it" is.

Shouldn't be obvious that I was destroying the flat and throwing a massive temper tantrum at an imaginary version of my abominable brother a mere 34 minutes prior.

In the (frustratingly long) time I waited for his knock on the door I realized our victim's suitcase was also missing her mobile (as was her body) and that she must have planted it on the murderer.

She was clever.

As I try to persuade John to text her phone, he mentions where he's been. With my “arch enemy” it seems.

MYCROFT .

Never in my life have I wanted to strangle the life out of my brother like I do in this moment.

Don't get sidetracked--deal with Mycroft later.

“...not my problem right now. On my desk, the number!” I exclaim.

John finally sends the text I dictate to our dead woman's mobile and we see the subsequent call from our panicked serial killer.

Brilliant! Something to help me test my hypothesis about John seeking dangerous situations.

“Have you talked to the police?” he asks as I pull on my coat.

I glance his direction--he's standing still, shoulders relaxed and hands at his side. Not favouring his leg at all. Curious. Any tension I previously observed in his body once he realized what I made him do has dissipated.

“Four people are dead--there isn't time to talk to the police,” I reply.

“Then why are you talking to me?”

Because you're different.

You're relevant.

(I need you)

‘Slow down little brother,’ Mycroft murmurs quietly. What would your face look like as I squeezed the life out of you? I bet it would be delightful.

John is staring. Quick--give a reason--“Mrs Hudson took my skull,” I comment nonchalantly. As he checks the mantle, I steal another look at him. (Why can't I say…)

What? What can’t I say?

Nothing.

There's nothing to say.

(Liar)

“So I am basically filling in for your skull?” I've offended him. He looks away.

Bollocks.

Fix it.

You have no idea, John.

“Relax, you're doing fine,” I reassure him. He turns back towards me, and I smile. An honest, genuine smile. The kind of smile an Army doctor like John Watson appreciates. His lips part slightly, tongue again making an appearance for... me? For me. (Oh God)

My blood pressure rises so much I feel it throbbing in my ears.

“Well?” I ask. Our eyes are locked.

His voice is lower as he replies, “Well what?”

Funny how various situations can trigger the sympathetic nervous system. I feel the familiar flood of norepinephrine.

“Well you could just sit here and watch telly…” I trail off.

(Please don't)

You belong in battle. (With me?)

Preposterous. Like he'd want me.

(Would he?)

Of course not.

He stands, keeping his eyes fixed on mine. The tips of his ears turn a recognizable shade of pink. He seems unsure.

Out with it , John.

“You want me to come with you?”

Oh God YES, I barely refrain from shouting.

Calm down.

Focus.

I refuse to ruin this (again).

“I prefer company when I go out—“ (yours especially) “I think better aloud and the skull just attracts attention,” I explain as calmly as I can. (Additionally, you’re more aesthetically pleasing)

Shove off, traitorous thoughts.

He’s hesitating. Perhaps I misread him. Why isn’t he chomping at the bit to go with me like before?

Maybe he thinks I’ll leave him again.

(I won’t)

He doesn’t know that though.

‘Promises, promises…’

Wrong, Mycroft. This is different. He is different. You know that.

“Problem?” I query, eyebrows raising.

Allow me to prove you wrong, Dr. Watson.

He purses his (still slightly wet) lips and breaks eye contact. Discomfort? Anger? Embarrassment?

Embarrassment. Why?

“Sergeant Donovan…,” he begins.

Oh. Hateful. Should have known she’d attempt to sabotage this.

“What about her?” I spit out.

His blush deepens. I watch as it spreads down his neck, colouring the thin skin stretched across his clavicles and disappearing under his shirt. I can almost see what I imagine his pectoral muscles to look like, dotted with coarse blonde/brown hair over his slowly reddening skin. The small round nubs of his nipples, surrounded by the naturally darker skin of his areolas--

‘Oh my.’

Mind your own business, Mycroft.

“She said you get off on this. You enjoy it,” John finally responds. My eyes snap back up to his face.

Enjoy it.

Get off on it.

Wait, get off on what!?

‘Alarmed?’

Alarmed? By what exactly, Mycroft? Leave me alone.

Oh. He means...Donovan would be referring to crime scenes. She’s too dense to have noticed...anything.

(Has he?)

No of course not.

Relief. Can’t help the ghost of a smile as it spreads across my lips. I observe his frame relax as he watches my face. I lean, towering over him slightly, and note the way his breath catches.

(Did it?)

It did.

Is he--

Can’t be.

It’s the promise of danger. Must be.

“And I said ‘dangerous’ and here you are.”

I watch as his entire countenance changes with the surge of neurotransmitters. Pupillary dilation. Hypertension evident as the pulse point in his neck throbs, pace quickening. Increased perspiration near his hairline. Vasodilation prominent under his cheekbones. Salivary response causing an increase in reflexive swallowing--I stare as his Adam’s apple moves along his tan throat.

Now who’s getting off on this?

Oh.

Oh.

Oh.

OH!

!!!!!

Incomprehensible.

I tear myself away before I do something rash and nearly fly out of the flat, knowing he’ll follow behind. I need some air before I can face him again.

Turn into the wind, gulp the cool breeze. Need to slow down my breathing. Don’t want to hyperventilate. Last thing I need to do is pass out from exhaling too much carbon dioxide.

Calm down.

Focus.

‘Stop panicking.’

I’m not panicking.

I don’t panic.

Really?’

I. DON’T. PANIC.

Close my eyes. Decrease sensory input to increase control. Focus on auditory observations: traffic, sewer, plane, footsteps, wind against bricks, click of traffic signal changing. Name the makes, models, and years of the vehicles passing me. Count the time between clicks. Count the number of people walking on each side of the street--calculate heights and walking speeds.

Tactile observations: temperature outside = 9 degrees celsius. Humidity level 30%. Clothing textiles: silk, cotton, minute amounts of polyester, leather, elastic, rayon.

Olfactory observations: bread, deli meats, variety of cheeses--Speedy’s. 14 different colognes, 23 different perfumes. Pricing ranges from 5 pounds all the way up to 100 pounds. The Thames. Low tide. Petrol. Chinese.

One last deep breath. I can feel my oxygen and carbon dioxide levels balancing out. He’s nearly down the steps.

‘Get yourself together, Sherlock,’ Mycroft demands. ‘You have work to do.’

Yes--need to focus.

Serial killer to catch.

Psychosomatic limp to defeat.

Data to collect.

Murders to solve.

With just a bit more self control, this is going to be rather fun, isn't it?

Chapter Text

The walk to Angelo’s to wait for our serial killer was...tense.

Was it tense? (Of course it was)

Well, tense for me. John seemed totally calm.

Why is he so calm? How does he--

Oh.

Maybe he feels differently.

(What do I feel?) Do I feel something?

(Yes of course) What is it? No clue. (Some clue) Wonder if he--

“Sherlock!” Angelo shouts, pulling me into a brief hug.

John looks--surprised? Affronted? (Jealous?) (No, never) at the intrusion to our space.

“Anything on the menu, whatever you want, free! All on the house, for you and your date,” Angelo adds as we sit in a tight spot by the window, facing each other. I'm secretly pleased (?) that Angelo assumes we're on a date. (I am, I admit it.) No use correcting him. Let him think we are. Perhaps John will notice I don't care to change Angelo's supposition about us. If he's at all interested, maybe this will--

Relying on subtleties, Sherlock? I'm... disappointed.’

Sigh. Mycroft you are no doubt aware of the difficulties posed by this--

Entanglement? I've warned you before about getting... involved…’

Shake my head.

Need to focus.

Go away, Mycroft.

John's staring at me, an amused expression on his face. “Do you want to eat?” I ask him quietly.

I watch as his lips slowly pull up at the corners of his mouth in a smirk. He glances towards Angelo and states evenly, “I'm not his date.” His eyes return to mine.

What is that expression?

Eyes--narrowed ever so slightly. Familiar crinkle in the skin around them. Eyebrows raised 4 millimetres higher than baseline. In the dim lighting of the restaurant, his pupils dilate so much they eclipse the colour of his irises. The hint of a smirk remains on his lips as he maintains steady eye contact. His gaze--intense. Posture--relaxed. Breath--slow, even.

It's a challenge.

I'm not his date.’

He's challenging me. Is he challenging me?

He is.

Why? What would he be challenging me about?

Subtext: correct me. Call me your date.

He’s calling attention to our--

Affiliation?

Connection?

Relationship?

What relationship?’

Nothing. Shut up. Nothing. Leave me alone.

Angelo is trying (and failing) at explaining why he greets me with such fond familiarity. John barely spares him an occasional glance as we chat, his eyes returning to mine to continue the challenge. Angelo grabs a candle for the table, mentioning something about it being more romantic.

Romantic?

Romantic.

Interesting.

John again defends his role as not my date--his tone incredulous yet his body language suggests otherwise. Incongruence. Curious.

Is it possible he's actually... affected by my presence?

Data. Need data.

Wish I had more nicotine.

(Or cocaine)

“... arch-enemies,” John finishes.

What? What in God's name is he talking about? (Need to pay more attention)

“I'm sorry?” I ask, confused. Shadows from the candle between us dance along his face--his cheekbones more prominent in this lighting. Eyes slightly hooded. Lips parted, highlighted by the golden flicker below. My pulse quickens--110bpm. Looks like Angelo was right about the candle.

He clears his throat. “In real life. There are no arch enemies in real life. Doesn't happen.”

Obviously your interaction with my detestable brother wasn’t quite long enough to convince you of the very real horrors of arch enemies, Dr. Watson.

“Doesn't it?” I ask, focusing on keeping the venom out of my voice while thinking about my hateful relation.

“Sounds a bit dull,” I add with an air of nonchalance. I stare out the window in a (pathetically failed) attempt at lowering my heart rate. Deep breath. Try to activate my parasympathetic nervous system--get the acetylcholine flowing.

I could really use a cigarette.

“So who did I meet?”

Not my problem right now. Can't get into that topic. Change the subject. “What do real people have, then, in their real lives?”

His shoulders square. He recognizes my challenge. I barely repress the smile that threatens to give me away.

He works his jaw briefly before answering, “Friends? People they know, people they like, people they don’t like…”

That damnable tongue will be the death of me.

“Girlfriends, boyfriends…” he finishes.

...Oh.

What?!

Window--street--cars--(distract me)

Breathe.

“Yes, well, as I was saying, dull.” What inadequate terms--childish even. Every relationship I’ve ever had has been much more intense, consuming even. What’s the point otherwise? I am incapable of doing anything casual in my life--hence the reason I keep my distance. The tedious nature of ‘creating’ a relationship--exhausting. The ‘barely there’ moments, the confusion and misunderstandings...I am too obsessive for such nonsense.

“You don’t have a girlfriend, then?”

A girlfriend?

Hilarious.

“Girlfriend? No, not really my area,” I reply, still staring out the window. Can’t possibly face him while we discuss this...topic. Luckily I’ve kept my face fairly neutral so far--my head is swimming in a neurotransmitter cocktail of excitement, fear, and…

Pleasure?

Am I enjoying this? (I am)

Is he enjoying this?

Difficult to say without data, little brother…’ Obviously.

John makes that appreciative humming sound--the one I don’t think enters his awareness--and I dare to glance at him.

He’s blinking slowly as his eyes rove over me. I watch his chest rise and fall--faster than his usual respiration rate (currently 27 breaths per minute, usually 15 breaths per minute). I feel my own breathing match his pace, the heat creeping up my neck knowing his gaze is still focused on me.

“Oh, right, d’you have a boyfriend?” He finally asks, a glint of--

What?

A glint of--

Don’t you know what that is?’ Mycroft taunts.

Of course I know what that look is.

Arousal.

Directed at--

Really?

OH.

“Which is fine by the way,” he adds when I take too long to respond.

“I know it’s fine,” I blurt out. Stupid.

Ridiculous.

Am I that eager?

(Yes.)

Pathetic.

Window again. Count the cobblestones. Temperature has dropped 1.4 degrees Celsius outside since we entered the restaurant. Obvious given the signs--visible exhalations from pedestrians--condensation on various glass objects--traffic signals tick over 3 seconds later than usual--

“So you’ve got a boyfriend then?”

What!? My attention snaps back to him.

I--

“No.” Isn’t it clear? Must be clear. Every thought I have is underscored by a secondary thought about you, John Watson. The first relevant person in my life. You’ve completely upended my existence with your presence. Should be clear there is no one else.

John’s face relaxes into a brief grin as he replies, “Right, okay. You’re unattached, like me. Fine. Good.”

Wait--what?

What is he…?

He’s--

Close--so close--too close?

Scent--Musk-sweat-tea-BritishSterling-fabric softener--melding--coating--absorbing--invading--

John.

Eyelashes--176 top right 183 top left 89 bottom right 93 bottom left--blonde/brown--perfectly spaced 0.25 millimetres apart--

John.

Eyes--heterochromic--blue/brown--flecks of gold--pupils blown wide--5 millimetres--

John.

Lips--parted--flick of tongue--glistening--hint of teeth--edges curled upwards--smile?

John.

Skin--flushed--stubble above upper lip--cheeks--chin--neck--shaved 12 hours 24 minutes ago--for me?

John.

Closer--breath on my face--pulse pounding--hand reaching--fingers trail along my jaw--

Electricity.

John.

John.

John.

John…

You don’t want this.

I will possess you. Consume you.

I can’t do that to you.

I’ll take everything from you and then I’ll still leave you at crime scenes.

You may be different.

I can’t be.

I will always be me.

You don’t want this. (No one does)

I want--but--

I pull back. His eyes change immediately. Confusion--frustration--hurt. (I hate myself)

“John, you should know, I consider myself married to my work, and while I’m flattered by your interest I’m really not looking for any kind of--”

Look away.

Can’t watch. (Don’t leave)

Loathsome.

It’s for the best, brother mine. Don’t get involved--you know how it always turns out,’ Mycroft reassures me from inside my mind palace.

I hear John mumble some kind of pride saving comment about not trying to hit on me (really?) and then--

There--

A taxi.

Waiting--no one getting in, no one getting out.

It’s him. I catch John’s attention--the distraction is welcomed by us both after what just happened between us. I slowly rise from my seat and exit the restaurant, John right behind me. The taxi pulls away just as I step onto the sidewalk.

Can’t let him get away!

Hurl myself over a vehicle--blood pounding in my ears--bruised a rib that time--sprint after the cab--lose him in traffic. John appears at my side, panting, mentioning getting the plate number. Useless but quick reaction time--impressive. Irrelevant now though.

>>Mind Palace

     >>London street maps

          >>Routing…

Go!

“Come on, John!”

I lead us through alleys, over rooftops, down fire escapes, across streets, and we finally get ahead of the cab’s path and intercept it.

Throw open the taxi door--

WRONG.

It’s all wrong.

Bloody hell.

I’m an idiot!

American--Californian--WRONG.

Perhaps if you hadn’t been so occupied earlier…’.

Don’t remind me Mycroft.

I stalk off--this evening has been everything except fun.

Dreadful. How could I be so stupid? Miserable failure on all accounts.

“So, where did you get this?” John asks, indicating the police badge I flashed at not the serial killer. “Detective Inspector Lestrade?”

He sounds...amused. Amused? I look to confirm--yes, amused. I smirk in response. “Yeah. I pickpocket him when he’s annoying. You can keep that one, I’ve got loads at the flat.” The stack flashes in my brain--12 currently, not including this one. I suppress a chuckle.

John starts giggling.

He’s giggling?

He is. His entire body is shaking.

“What?” I ask. Why is he laughing so much?

“Nothing, just…welcome to London!” he responds, referencing his earlier comment to the American in the cab. He starts to double over because he’s laughing so hard. I can’t help but join in. Absurd. This entire evening has been the very definition of bizarre.

Hold it--

The American is talking to some officers from New Scotland Yard. I gesture towards them and John catches my meaning. “Got your breath back?”

“Ready when you are!” he replies, still smiling broadly.

Perhaps I didn’t ruin things earlier as much as I thought. He wouldn’t be smiling at me if he was going to leave. Would he? No. (I hope not)

Running through the streets of London, back towards Baker Street. John close, his even-paced panting echoing my feet as they slap the ground.

Can't help but notice the strikingly obvious lack of an irrelevant cane.

I suppose tonight did yield some significant results:
     1) More data
     2) Limp definitely is psychosomatic
     3) Mycroft continues to be irritating
     4) I continue to be an idiot

Not a complete failure then.

Chapter Text

We arrive back at Baker Street and slip quietly inside, both breathing heavily from our run. While I recover, I watch John out of the corner of my eye.

Has he noticed what he's missing?

(Doubtful)

Pausing briefly he catches my eye, face alight in a huge grin. “That was ridiculous. That was the most ridiculous thing I've ever done,” he gasps out between laughs.

I love how his entire body shakes when he laughs.

(I love it?)

(Love…?)

Oh no.

'This is dangerous, Sherlock,’ Mycroft murmurs.

Yes thank you for pointing out the obvious.

John is staring. (He's always staring)

Why is he always staring?

(I like that he stares)

“And you invaded Afghanistan,” I tease, still watching him out of my periphery.

“Yeah, it wasn't just me,” he replies, echoing my tone.

You weren't alone this time either.

(We were together)

Hm.

John continues, “Why aren't we back at the restaurant?”

He’s agreeing that we were together. We are together.

He'd go back with me if I asked?

Maybe he would.

Focus--I'm taking too long to respond. I keep my tone light despite my current... state.

“Oh, they can keep an eye out. It's a long shot anyway.”

His expression changes--eyebrows knitted together, lips pursed, eyes narrowed and slightly downcast.

Confusion? Annoyance?

Does he think I didn't want--

'Well you did utterly reject him,’ Mycroft reminds.

Well, yes, but--

I--

Shit.

“So what were we doing there?” he asks quietly, still looking at his shoes.

(They can't be that interesting)

He’s embarrassed.

(Still hate myself)

Count the cracks in the ceiling--9.

Angelo should arrive soon--texted him as we ran to request he deliver John’s (still) irrelevant cane. Perhaps once he realized what I’ve done for him he won’t feel so spurned.

(I don’t spurn you)

(I need you)

Possible he’ll be annoyed. Or find me arrogant. Incorrigible.

Et cetera.

All the usual terms they used to describe me when I’m blatantly right (which is always).

(Feels less so lately)

Sigh.

More staring. Focus.

“Passing the time, proving a point,” I answer coolly. His eyes meet mine again.

“What point?”

Keep his gaze.

Keep. His. Gaze.

Keep it.

Blood pressure rising--head throbbing--breath accelerating--diaphoresis again--

“You,” I purr.

His breath hitches, pupils suddenly blown wide. A glance at his mouth reveals the tip of his tongue running along his bottom lip.

That tongue.

I tear myself away to shout towards Mrs. Hudson’s flat, “Mrs. Hudson, Dr. Watson will be taking the upstairs room!”

Although I’d prefer...closer...sleeping quarters.

Wait WHAT!?

'Really, brother mine?’

Nope--go away. No time for you.

Close my eyes. Breathe.

Too much. This is too much.

Slow down.

I glance back at John as he asks incredulously, “Says who?”

Here comes the fun part. “Says the man at the door.”

Doorbell. One half second, no hesitation. Familiarity. Angelo. John, frowning again, turns to walk and open the door. I can tell the exact moment he sees his (useless) cane--his shoulders, previously tense, drop approximately (exactly) one centimetre. The muscles in his neck relax briefly, then flex again as he works his jaw in contemplation. 

I hear Angelo’s exuberant exclamation, “Sherlock texted me! He said you forgot this.”

Realization--John’s hand touches his (not bad) leg. Hasn’t been troubling him since the restaurant. He utters something in gratitude and shuts the door.

Now I’m staring.

(Wonder if he likes it?)

He isn’t facing me.

Why isn’t he facing me?

...

I did it wrong.

I crossed the line.

(Don’t leave)

(Please)

(Please don’t leave)

He’s turning towards the wall, placing his unnecessary cane in the corner. His hands fall to his sides, fists clenching and unclenching sporadically. He still isn’t looking at me--chin is tilted, examining his shoes again.

He’s angry.

I can hear his breath slowly whistling through his nostrils. It sounds like he’s trying to calm himself down.

Knew this wouldn’t last.

‘Never does,’ Mycroft unhelpfully adds, bit of sadness in his tone.

My heart is hammering away as I wait. No matter what I’m waiting for, it’s always hateful. Waiting for this, however...waiting for him to tell me what a freak I am before he inevitably leaves. If I could delay this for the rest of my life I would.

I continue staring masochistically.

Waiting…

Waiting…

(I’d rather die)

Finally--his head lifts. He gives a curt nod. To whom?

Himself?

Me?

Why?

My skin feels like ice as he turns and we lock eyes. I swear he must be able to hear my heartbeat across the hall.

(Please…)

(Don’t…)

His face is impassive--stoic.

(Terrifying)

In three strides he closes the distance between us, standing well within socially acceptable physical boundaries. My back is pressed against the wall--no escape.

I deserve whatever I’m about to receive.

His eyes--

Oh.

It’s…the same.

As before--at Angelo’s.

The same look.

Not angry.

Hungry.

I…

How many cracks was it? In the ceiling? Can’t seem to recall...eight?

Something…

Like…

That…

“All right?” he whispers.

What?

What’s all right?

This?

This…

Somehow the connection between my brain and mouth seems to have short circuited momentarily.

Uh--

I--

An incoherent yet distinctly affirmative sound erupts from my mouth--I hear it as if I’m three metres away from myself.

I’m…

Drowning--drowning--drowning--

John.

Lips--his lips? My lips? Same . Moving, soft, wet, opening, teeth, gentle, teasing-- oh--

His body--

His. Body.

My body.

No space, connected.

Heart pounding--his? Mine? Can't tell--too close--

Knee between my legs? Ah--yes --oh--invading-- yes--

Hands--his hands, my hair, back of my neck, grasping, pulling--

Perfection.

Drowning…

‘Breathe little brother.’

Break away--gasp--head swirling--dopamine/norepinephrine--heart rate 160bpm--core temperature elevated 37 degrees Celsius.

Lips--again!--rougher, sucking--

Tongue--OH , TONGUE --probing, licking, sliding-- YES!

Fingers (feathers) jawline--tracing, dancing--

Pressure--hip bone--John’s firm hand, pulling us closer, enveloping me, molding to me--

Oh God.

Friction.

Ah--

!!!!!!!!!

………..

Cold.

What?

Why?

What!?

Start to surface--new voice? Who…? My name--heard my name--NOT JOHN--who…?

Cold.

Blink. Blink again. And again.

Vision returning. It’s an older woman. I know her…?

Oh--Mrs. Hudson. She said something important. They’re both looking at me, expecting a response.

John--

Oh, John. Lips swollen, hair disheveled, panting, flushed…

Utterly debauched.

Perfection.

‘Focus…’

Yes, yes of course. Focus. Bit challenging at the moment, Mycroft.

Something’s wrong upstairs--I was too distracted earlier to notice.

Stupid.

My breath--nearly returned. Still a bit disoriented--

(How? It was only a kiss!?)

John kissed me.

John...kissed...me…

More noises from our flat. Mrs. Hudson gestures towards the ceiling. “Upstairs!” she exclaims. I share a look with John before we race up the steps to investigate. As we burst through the door, it’s immediately clear.

Lestrade.

Bloody hell.

There are police everywhere.

Infuriating.

I barely contain my rage as I glare at him. “What are you doing!?!”

He’s sitting in my chair.

Deep breath.

Assaulting a police inspector is a criminal offence and I honestly don’t have time to be imprisoned right now.

Lestrade smirks. “Well I knew you’d find the case, I’m not stupid.”

Of course you are.

Maddening. I struggle to stop myself from howling at them. “You can’t break into my flat!!”

He stares me down. “You can’t withhold evidence, and I didn’t break into your flat,” he replies calmly.

Still in my chair.

Well what do you call this?!” I demand.

Don’t punch him in his annoyingly idiotic face.

Don’t do it.

‘I expect you’re above such banality, Sherlock.’

Deep breath.

Get out.

They all need to get out.

Lestrade shrugs, then gestures around at his cronies. “It’s a drugs bust!”

A DRUGS BUST!?

Seriously!?

Oh, I could kill him.

John clears his throat, then chuckles. “Seriously, this guy? A junkie? Have you met him?”

Kill me now.

This is not how I wanted it to go.

“John…,” I warn.

He continues, “Pretty sure you could search this flat all day, you wouldn't find anything you could call recreational…”

He gives me too much credit.

Really not how I wanted him to find this out.

(Didn't want him to ever find this out if I'm honest)

‘You knew he would eventually. Even with such a... distraction...you would still end up going back at some point, little brother.’

Always the addict.

I know.

(Could he be my new drug?)

No--can't do that to him.

Can't overtake him like that.

“John, you probably want to shut up now,” I warn again.

Still doesn't believe it.

Still giving me too much credit.

“Yeah, but, come on--”

He meets my eye--his smile fades. He knows.

“No!” he nearly shouts, totally shocked.

I've disappointed him. Again.

Isn't that how it always goes? I will always disappoint you John Watson. I disappoint everyone--even my own brother. Never quite what they want me to be.

Kind.

Polite.

Sober.

Good.

Impossible.

“What?” I challenge. Guard is up now.

“You?” he asks, almost amused.

Don't do that, John.

“Shut up!” I snap. His lips purse, jaw clenches. He inhales sharply through his nose and looks away.

How did we go from kissing passionately a few moments ago to this?!

Unbearable.

I hate it.

Chapter Text

I’m sorry, John. I have to do this.

‘Do what?’

Leave you.

Disappoint you.

Lie to you.

(Protect you)

‘I could help, you know.’

Yes, but...if something happened--no. Can’t. Serial killers are too unpredictable. I can manage him on my own (probably), but if you were with us, I’d be too…

‘Too what?’

Distracted.

Worried.

Vulnerable.

Can’t.

Won’t.

I have to focus. I need all of my brain power for this one, if I’m going to figure it out, and--

‘And? Survive?’

Preferably, yes.

‘Good.’

Please just...just don’t hate me for this. I know it’s a risk--leaving, no backup, going off with a man who’s already killed at least four people. It’s a risk betraying your trust (again). In two days I’ve done it over and over--left you, rejected you, angered you, disappointed you, lied to you…

How could you possibly want me after this? This is what I do . This is who I am. This is why no one stands me for long--I may be a high functioning sociopath who ignores (hates) all the rules but that doesn’t mean I’m not totally aware of them while I’m breaking them.

This...this feeling. This is why I find people so tedious. So much effort for so little payoff.

‘You’re saying I’m not worth it? Not worth the effort?’

No.

I’m saying that I’m not worth it.

By now you’ve figured it out. I’ve run off without you. I’m sure Donovan is giving you her patented I told you so look. Lestrade probably looks like a mixture of confusion, annoyance, and pity. He understands--knows why they all leave. Why they call me a freak . He won’t ever say it out loud--he needs me (like I need him). Symbiosis. He assuredly thinks of me the same way as all the rest.

Everyone does in the end.

‘Even me?’

Undoubtedly.

Even you.

Even you, John.

‘Don’t think you’re giving me enough credit.’

I--

The taxi has stopped. Throughout our ride the serial killer did a spectacular job of providing me with utterly fantastic details (Divorced, estranged, two children, dying) while simultaneously boring me with shockingly dull conversation (I have a fan? Really? Not likely).

I know where we are, of course: Roland-Kerr further education college.

He knows I know. Pity--was hoping to surprise him. People are much easier to manipulate when they aren’t aware of my intellect.

“And you just walk your victims in?” I ask incredulously.

Oh, fabulous. He’s pulled a (fake? really?) gun on me. Pathetic. I expected more. Serial killers-- always with the dramatics .

“It gets better, don’t worry,” he attempts to reassure me.

“You can’t make people kill themselves at gunpoint,” I state evenly, working to keep my disdain hidden. Need him to reveal how he does it--how he gets people to kill themselves. Don’t really want him getting frustrated with me and deciding to kill me before I understand . Otherwise all this will be pointless…

As I follow him inside, I take the opportunity for a massive eyeroll.

‘Arrogance kills people, brother mine.’

And curiosity killed the cat. Does it really matter , Mycroft?

‘Consider John.’

What of it?

‘Just consider him.’

I’d rather not. I need to focus. You know he’s a distraction. As I told him, I’m married to The Work, and as far as I’m concerned I’ve just returned home to it making me dinner.

It’s time to eat.

The Mycroft in my Mind Palace makes that face at me. The one that will someday lead to his demise at my hands.

Go away . You’re a distraction too.

‘Just trying to be of assistance, little brother…’

What would you do if I died, John? Would you move on with your life? Of course you would--we’ve only just met. You said so yourself.

We’ve only just kissed.

‘You think I’d just forget about you that easily, hmm? I was wrong before--you aren’t giving yourself enough credit.’

John, I--

I need to focus.

I need to stay alive.

I need to understand.

I need to win.

I need to see you again.

I need to say sorry.

I need to watch you laugh.

I need to feel your warmth.

I need to stare at your tongue.

I need to count your eyelashes.

I need to kiss you.

I need to--

‘Love me?’

I--

Two bottles?

Two bottles.

Oh, that’s clever. Is it clever? Why is it clever? Oh, it’s chess. I see. It’s a puzzle. A game. Ooh, this is definitely more interesting than I expected. He’s surprised me, this one. Exciting. Maybe this is worth my effort after all. Time to stop acting daft and play the game.

“Are you ready yet, Mr. Holmes?” the serial killer asks me. “Ready to play?”

Oh, I am .

‘Careful…’

No, Mycroft, I was intending on being absolutely reckless and irresponsible. Honestly .

‘Wouldn’t be the first time…’

Is this necessary? Quiet, Myc.

“Play what? It’s a 50-50 chance,” I respond apathetically. I’m always ready to play the game . I watch as he argues with me--it’s almost cute . I know what game I’m playing.

“You risked your life four times just to kill strangers? Why?” Look at him bristle .

I’m not following the rules--he’s rigid, this one. It’s frustrating him that I’m refusing to do what he wants.

“Time to play,” he growls.

“I am playing. This is my go…,” I reply knowingly. As my deductions about him pour out of me, John reappears in my Mind Palace.

‘Impressive. Fantastic.’

I beam internally. So kind of you.

“...enough chatter. It’s time to choose,” the serial killer commands, obviously irritated with my accuracy. He's tired of me.

(Like everyone else)

‘Not me,’ John refutes.

No? Hm. So far. I suppose you’re right.

‘Of course I’m right.’

“What if I don’t take either? Could walk away from this table right now,” I challenge. Love this bit--making him think he’s so clever. So clever I won’t engage for fear I’ll lose.

I won’t.

He again pulls out the (still fake) gun.

Ridiculous.

“I’ll have the gun, please,” I taunt. This is too easy.

‘Caution, Sherlock. Don’t be smart.’

Shove off. I’m having fun.

He tries to convince me otherwise. Hilarious. Finally, he pulls the trigger--a lighter. Knew it.

Well, time to go. Love winning.

Time to go see John and…

Well…

‘Apologize?’ Mycroft suggests.

I don’t apologize. But...I will. This time. Maybe…

Maybe he’ll forgive me.

(For what? Being me? Absurd)

Maybe he’ll still want me?

(Even though I’m...me?)

Maybe.

“Before you go, did you figure it out? Which one’s the good bottle?” the (defeated) serial killer queries.

Curious.

Hm.

“Of course. Child’s play,” I reply as I’m walking towards the door. I need to leave. He’s goading me, tempting me with the puzzle. I can feel it. I can feel the norepinephrine starting to release, feel my heart start to race.

‘You’ve won the game. Just leave, Sherlock,’ John states evenly.

Oh, if only it was so easy…

I know I’m right.

Aren’t I?

I’m right. Have to be.

“Really, what do you think? Can you beat me? Are you clever enough? Are you really sure? Bet your life?” the killer taunts.

Obviously I’m clever enough.

I’m Sherlock Holmes.

I know I beat him.

Why…

Why not just prove it?

Prove it to him.

Prove it to me.

Prove it to…

‘What, to me, Sherlock?’ John offers. ‘You don’t have to prove yourself to me. You know I find you brilliant. I’ve said it plenty. Don’t do this.’

But…

I know I’m right.

I am.

(Ever the addict)

(Love this feeling)

(Need the hit)

So what does it matter if I just take the pill? It won’t do anything to me.

Open the bottle.

Take out the pill--a capsule, filled with white and pink pearls of some unknown substance.

I’m right.

I know it.

I’m--

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Blink.

Ears--ringing--pain--inside my head?

Am I injured?

What--

What’s happening?

Look around--everything the same--except--

There.

Window--glass broken. Exit hole indicates a 9mm bullet--

Bullet?

Hear moaning--oh--it’s the serial killer--he’s been shot!?

What!?

Ringing decreasing--

Wait--earlier--he mentioned his sponsor, my fan --this is larger than I thought. He’s dying--I need data. I’ll find the shooter later.

Need the dopamine surge. Need it now .

“Was I right? I was, wasn’t I? Did I get it right?” I shout in the dying man’s face.

Tell me dammit!

I KNOW I WAS RIGHT!

He won’t. I feel the familiar flood of icy rage fill me.

‘Move on, Sherlock. Data,’ Mycroft reminds.

“Ok then. Tell me this. Your sponsor--who was it?”

He’s refusing.

Bad idea.

(Glad John isn’t here to see this)

I lift my right shoe and place it over the bullet wound of the serial killer, resting it lightly. Surprise ensconces his features momentarily--that is, until I apply pressure.

Torment.

“You’re dying, but there’s still time to hurt you. Give me a name,” I demand, shifting my weight onto said foot. I hate how badly I need to hurt him--punish him. I need to see his pain. I need to feel it. He denied me the satisfaction of proving I was right, that I’m clever enough.

That I'm worth...something. That I could ever be good enough to deserve.

You will tell me what I need to know, or you will suffer until you die. Cruelty is ugly but necessary. (Loathe how easily it comes to me)

A gurgled, “No…”

Press harder. Blood is running down his shoulder and pooling beneath him. I’m forcing his heart to pump harder, faster, in a futile attempt to stabilize his circulatory system.

John--a doctor--

He would hate me for this.

I don’t care right now.

Need data .

“Name him!!” I bellow as all my weight has transferred and the man below me howls in torturous pain.

“MORIARTY!” he screeches with his last breath.

…..

Moriarty?

What...who?

Interesting.

Deep breath. Acetylcholine. Calm down.

My hands--trembling. My core feels like ice. Overwhelming urge to laugh? Cry? Confusing.

Hateful.

Need to leave.

Need…

Need a hit.

Need John.

Chapter Text

“Why do I have this blanket? They keep putting a blanket on me,” I complain at Lestrade.

Humiliating.

Infuriating, even.

I am above this, obviously.

Also--where is John? Texted him ages ago, right after I phoned Lestrade.

>>John Watson

>>Send Message

<Roland-Kerr further education college. Please come. -SH>

No reply yet.

Perhaps he won’t.

(I wouldn’t blame him)

I’m glaring at Lestrade--he’s barely keeping a smug grin off his face. “It’s for shock,” he explains.

For shock?! Ridiculous!

“I’m not in shock!”

I don’t go into shock.

‘What do you call how you felt earlier, hmm? Right after the serial killer died?’

What? Oh, that. Nothing. It was nothing, John.

‘No, that was shock. Keep the blanket. Doctor’s orders.’

Scowl.

‘You know I’m right.’

Sigh. Eyeroll.

More glaring at Lestrade. He’s not even trying to hide his idiotic smile anymore. “Yeah, but some of the guys want to take photographs,” he adds.

Traitorous git. Narrow my eyes. Stare menacingly. Hateful.

Moving on-- “So, the shooter. No sign of him.” Not a question. Obviously no sign--I would have noticed.

Lestrade shakes his head as he responds, “Cleared out by the time we got here…”

Tune him out. Dull. Why do people feel the need to hypothesize without any actual data? Irrelevant. Everything he’s saying is completely and utterly--

“...but we’ve nothing to go on…,” he finishes.

Really?

Oh, Lestrade. I appreciate your use in my world but sometimes I do honestly wonder how you could become Detective Inspector with such a pathetic brain.

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that,” I taunt. This ought to be fun.

All traces of his former smile have vanished as a particularly weary expression takes hold. Nevertheless, he wants to hear me out. “Okay, gimme.”

The deductions--flying. My thoughts--racing, twisting, flowing around each other--analyzing, dissecting--

“...a hand gun…”

--clearly given the size of the bullet--

“...a crack shot…”

--very impressive actually--crossed the gap between the buildings, vision distorted by glass, still made it on target--

“...a fighter…”

The shooter starts forming in my mind: military--broad, strong shoulders--steady, sure hands--intense gaze--

“...acclimated to violence…”

Briefly my thoughts drift--

‘Bit of trouble too, I bet.’

‘Of course, yes. Enough for a lifetime. Far too much...’

Steely eyes--blue/brown/gold flecks--locked with my own--

‘Want to see some more?’

Breath catches--lips part--pupils dilate--

‘Oh God yes!’

Focus.

Shooter.

Focus.

“...strong moral principles…”

The shooter continues to solidifying. Kindness behind his courage, a softness--hint of a smile, crinkle by his eyes…

Reminds me of…

“You’re looking for a man probably with a history of military service and nerves of steel--”

Oh.

Oh?

OH.

There--

There he is.

He’s here.

He’s always been here.

(Has he?)

Yes of course. Why didn’t I see it? (Idiot)

He’s...he’s the one. The one who shot the serial killer. The one who stopped me from--

He saw me.

He saw me.

(Saved me?)

Why would he?

‘Because you deserve it.’

Do I?

‘Course you do.’

I--

“Actually, you know what--ignore me…,” I barely hear myself say quietly. The pull from him is magnetic--he’s watching me, barely blinking, tongue darting out to wet his bottom lip--

I need--

“I’m sorry?”

Do shut up Lestrade. Busy at the moment.

“Ignore all that. It’s the shock talking--”

Leave me alone, dammit!

“Where are you going!?” he demands, irritated.

I’m going to John.

My mouth, ever helpful even when operating without the assistance of my brain, supplies some excuse, some reason, for me to continue my beeline to John, ignoring Lestrade’s protests. I feel my world narrow to a single, fixed point--sound deadening, feet moving of their own accord, vision blurred at the periphery.

At this moment all I need is John.

Everything else is irrelevant.

‘And you think he reciprocates, brother mine?’

I...hope.

Doubt--fear--dread--

‘I did just save your life, you know. Would you just give it a chance?’

Give what a chance?

‘Me. Us.’

I would but…

You saw me. You saw how cruel I am. How heartless and cold I can be. I am a sociopath and an addict hiding behind a high IQ. That makes me incapable of forming appropriate human relationships. You don’t want me. No one...no one does, John.

‘Try me.’

“Sergeant Donovan’s been explaining about everything. The two pills--dreadful business, dreadful,” John says as I approach, trying hard to keep his tone appropriate to someone who didn’t just kill a man to save my life. Our eyes meet and I feel my face soften into the hint of a smile. He holds my gaze for a brief moment before looking away, a slight blush colouring his cheeks.

“Good shot,” I murmur as I observe the vasodilation creeping down his neck. His eyes snap back to mine, a flash of alarm crossing his features before the impassive soldier returns.

“Yeah, it must have been. Through that window…,” he trails off as he stares me down.

Again, a challenge.

Correct me, Sherlock.

Show me you know.

Show me you noticed.

Show me you care.

Of course I noticed.

Of course I care.

His ears--pink.

Deep breath. Calm down. Still at a crime scene. Can’t...can’t do this here.

‘Do what? Let me stride purposefully up to you, grab your hips, and slowly work my tongue from directly behind your right earlobe down along your neck, pausing at your pulse point...trailing down to your clavicle…’

Shut up! Stop giving me ideas! You’re distracting me!

Focus . John’s staring (as always). (Still like it)

“Well, you’d know,” I reply quietly, my left eyebrow raised as I accept his challenge. His shoulders square, back straightens, jaw raises 5 millimetres and clenches slightly. Then--a tiny smile. Anyone who hasn’t spent the amount of time observing John’s face as I have would never have noticed it. I did, though. Obviously. A curt nod of...acknowledgement?

Pride?

Pleasure?

Is he pleased that I know it was him?

He is.

Dopamine--oh dopamine! I can nearly feel it coat my neurons, flood my entire body in warmth. My senses feel fuzzy, like…

Like…

Like a hit.

Oh, John.

Heart racing--fingers tingling--palms slick with sweat--heat inching up the back of my neck--

‘Right where you want my tongue, hmm?’

Breathe.

Breathe.

BREATHE.

Much as I’d love to have your tongue on me, now is unfortunately not the time nor the place.

I vaguely hear myself from under the blanket of dopamine telling John something about powder burns and court cases. Dull.

We need to get out of here.

Now.

“...are you alright?” I ask.

John frowns briefly, then smiles.

(Love his smile)

“Course I’m alright.”

Really?

“You have just killed man,” I remind, watching him intently for any hint of a lie.

He won’t.

Military.

Genuine.

Honest.

His smile deepens, wrinkling the skin around his eyes, pulling his cheeks taut. (Love it even more)

“Yeah true. But he wasn’t a very nice man,” he states calmly. (Am I worse?)

“No. No, he wasn’t really, was he?”

John continues, “And frankly a bloody awful cabbie.”

Can’t hold back my chuckle. “Yeah, that’s true. A very bad cabbie. You should’ve seen the route we took here.”

His frame shakes as he fails at hiding his giggles. I join him, laughing so hard my bruised rib aches (worth it). We lean closer together (the proximity makes my blood race) and continue to dissolve.

“Stop it, we can’t giggle. It’s a bloody crime scene, stop!” he gasps out while he attempts to glare at me.

Adorable.

‘Such sentiment, Sherlock. I’m surprised.’

Always ruining my fun, Mycroft. Prick.

So what if I care about John Watson?

He’s different.

Relevant.

‘Yes I know, you’re always going on about how relevant he is. Relevant to what, exactly?’

Relevant to me.

Now go away .

We need to leave.

Heading towards the main road, teasing each other while sharing heated glances.

Discussion of dinner.

Maybe this time you really are my date, John?

I should ask you to be.

(I want you to be)

…something’s changed. He’s not smiling. Not looking at me. Stiff--hard lines--the soldier.

Why?

Oh.

Detestable.

“Sherlock, that’s him. That’s the guy I was talking about…,” John states quietly, leaning closer to me. His hand rests lightly on my arm--a warning. Protective. I feel my blood throbbing in my ears as I consider his loyalty to me already.

Amazing--and terrifying.

He’s watching me, waiting for my direction.

“I know exactly who that is,” I respond calmly. I look him in the eye and barely nod-- it’s okay, I try to tell him. His eyes narrow slightly, then a curt smile. He understands.

This bond between us is…

Dangerous.

(Is it?)

Feels that way.

(Exciting)

Norepinephrine.

Danger = Excitement

I feel an urgent, animalistic need to rid us of unwanted company as quickly as possible.

Breathe.

Patience.

Soon we’ll be alone and…

‘Hm? What is it you’d like us to do once we’re alone, Sherlock?’

I, uh--

I--

Not now. Not now. Need to get rid of my abominable brother first. Appears he’s talking? Wasn’t listening. Assuredly it is pathetically patronizing, as usual.

>>Mind Palace

    >>Mycroft

         >>Piss Off

         >>Loading…

>>1) Ignore him

“What are you doing here?” His lips purse. He knows I didn’t listen to a word he said. Perfect.

“As ever, I am concerned about you,” he replies with false contrition.

>>2) Massive eyeroll

“Yes, I’ve been hearing about your...concern,” I spit out.

>>3) Make faces at him

My features slide into my favorite ‘Mycroft hates this expression’ face--the one that exudes both irritation and severe boredom.

“Always so aggressive. Does it never occur to you that you and I belong on the same side?” he asks, working to keep his frustration with me hidden. I see through your façade, brother mine.

>>4) Disagree

“Oddly enough, no.”

I’m done with this conversation. Glance at John--he looks supremely confused and hesitant...yet I can see the hypervigilance underlying his features. Hands: clenched at his sides. Feet: spaced shoulder width apart, steady and balanced. Neck muscles tensed. Jaw working slightly as he considers what he’s watching. Occasional glances, scanning the area for additional threats.

Again, protective.

(Of…me?)

Yes, of me.

My vision clouds for a moment as another surge of dopamine and norepinephrine submerge my senses. God, this feels brilliant!

I need to get rid of Mycroft.

NOW.

>>Mind Palace

    >>Mycroft

         >>Piss off

              >>Access next file

>>5) Bicker

“I upset her? Me? It wasn’t me who upset her, Mycroft--”

>>6) Mention weight

“Are you putting on weight?”

>>7) Name calling

“He is the British Government.”

>>8) End conversation first

“Good evening, Mycroft--”

>>9) Sarcasm

“...try not to start a war before I get home, you know what it does to the traffic.”

>>10) Walk away before he can respond

LOVE winning.

After a few moments John catches up to me and we continue heading towards the main road, engaged in idle chit-chat. Can’t help but notice we keep getting closer together as we walk.

Soon we’ll be in a cab--

Me…

...and John.

Close. So close.

Alone.

Together.

Familiar sensations engulf my body--humming in excitement--fear--pleasure--

‘Hm, just imagine all the things we could do to each other in a situation like that, Sherlock. You know I’d let you do anything you want to me...I’d let you straddle my lap, press me back against the cab bench and kiss me slowly, deeply...tongues sliding lazily against each other…

I’d moan into your mouth while my hips buck up towards you, grinding us together--’

Oh…

My…

John.

What…

Uh…

YES, John...

I, ah--ah--yes, um--

JOHN.

Good. YES.

‘Let’s get started then,’ he purrs.

Shiver.

There’s the cab.

Oh....

OH, YES...

Chapter Text

My heart. Tachycardia.

Badumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadump

He must be able to hear it.

Half of bloody London can probably hear it.

Badumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadump

Irrational. Absurd. Utterly ridiculous. What is wrong with me? A moment ago all I could think about, all I wanted, was to be alone with John, and now…

Now I’m downright terrified.

Really? Pathetic.

Something is definitely wrong with me. The moment I turned the door handle of the cab I felt my blood pressure skyrocket. My brain is getting so much oxygen--too much really--that I feel disoriented.

High.

I feel high. Oh God.

And now...now we’re sitting next to each other, legs aligned and touching. I’m paralyzed.

Can't…can't bring myself to look at him. Need something to focus on. Window--street lamps--pedestrians--shops--houses--traffic signals--

What’s that? I feel--

Oh.

John.

His hand... dear God. His hand is on my thigh.

Hand-thigh-hand-thigh-hand-thigh-hand-thigh-hand-

Fingers--tapping.

Same as before--last time--on the way to the crime scene.

Except…

My thigh.

His hand.

His fingers.

My thigh.

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Window--sure I can estimate the temperature outside--must be about…

10 degrees Celsius…I…I think…

Now...he’s pressing his finger down on my thigh.

(What?!)

Tapping…

Pressing…

Tapping…

Wait. I feel my brain come back online briefly.

Focus.

Tap-press-tap-tap-pause--

Tap-pause--

Press-pause--

Press-press-pause--

Tap-pause--

Tap-tap-pause--

Press-tap-pause--

That’s...there’s a pattern. It’s...what is it? Oh it’s...it’s morse code? It is! Ooh, clever. John Watson is clever.

It’s repeating.

L--

E--

T--

M--

E--

I--

N--

Long pause. Repeat? No--he’s stopped. Hand resting, gentle even pressure from his fingers, thumb stroking (!!!!!) my thigh. I’m staring at his hand. I--I can feel him looking at me.

Deep breath.

“In to what, exactly, John?” I finally have the courage to croak out. My throat feels exceptionally tight, the words sound foreign to me. Is that my voice? I sound bloody awful. I feel him shift on the bench, turning towards me.

Badumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadump

His other hand--oh God, it’s...cupping my jaw. Turning my head. Thumb running along my bottom lip. I feel faint. His eyes--all intensity (blue/brown/gold/beautiful). Lips soft, glossy (must have just wet them with his...with his perfect tongue).

“You.” His voice, rough with...need.

I, ah…

Do it. Just do it. Just...just kiss him. I know he wants it...why am I so scared?! I'm never scared. This is ridiculous.

DO IT, DAMMIT!

Bloody hell.

God--his lips taste...ohhhhhh delicious…

Need...need more…

His hand on my neck, pulling me closer, bringing our bodies together. Sharing his warmth, invading my very cells with his presence.

(What do I...what do I do with my hands?)

‘Put them on me, Sherlock. Touch me.’

Oh--helpful--good, John.

Yes--I--yes--okay--good--

Oh--his back muscles...oh yes ...firm, strong, rippling under his clothes, under his skin…his skin...need to taste…

Wait--WAIT--slow down--

Have to--HAVE TO--

Talk? Explain? HAVE TO--

GASP --BREATHE--

My body--on fire--everything racing--can’t…

Can’t breathe…

Why can’t I breathe!?!

“Sherlock, you okay? Sherlock?” I can barely hear him. “You’re hyperventilating Sherlock. Try to slow down. Look at me, Sherlock--breathe with me, just like this,” he says, pursing his lips and breathing slowly. “Stay with me…”

Watch his mouth--

Breathe--

In------out------in------out------

“All right?” he asks after a couple minutes.

Nod. (I feel like an idiot)

I am an idiot.

Mortifying.

He’s smiling at me. Mocking--no. He doesn’t do that. Must remember--John doesn’t do that.

He’s...real.

And good.

Sigh.

I’m...I have to tell him.

(Don’t want to)

Must.

“John, I feel...something.”

Badumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadump

He’s waiting. (Terrifying) Can’t make myself speak. He can tell.

“Oh, okay. Care to elaborate?”

Badumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadump

Just need to say it.

Say it.

SAY IT.

“I...I decided a long time ago that sentiment...feelings...they are a means of exploitation. Their sole purpose is to provide others with an opening, with a vulnerability to manipulate, a way to achieve a goal...” The words are spilling out of me. Can’t slow down. “I’ve often used them against people for exactly these reasons--and haven’t cared about the aftermath. People...society...the rules of relationships...the concepts are tedious to me. Abhorrent, even. A waste of my time, except when I need data. John, I am a sociopath and until very recently I was convinced I was incapable of the very basics of human emotion.”

His face--so kind. Open. Listening. Waiting.

He deserves better than me.

He will always deserve better than me.

I watch him swallow slowly, Adam’s apple bobbing along his (beautiful) throat.

“Hm. Until recently?” he asks.

Look away. Can’t. “Yes.”

That appreciative humming sound--approval? Curiosity? Pride? Amusement? “When did it change?”

Clear my throat. Still feels like a vice is squeezing it shut. “When I...when I first saw you in the lab at Barts,” I respond stiffly. Why is this so hard for me? Nothing is ever hard for me. I hate it.

“Really?” he’s surprised. Surprised? How could he be surprised that I would be so...interested in him? I can barely keep my eyes off him. Even then, back at the lab--I was nearly salivating at the thought of him. “Why?”

Why!? Oh John, have you no idea!?

“You’re different. Well, all the data I’ve gathered seems to suggest that you may be different from…” I’m talking too quickly again. He must think I’m ridiculous.

“...from?”

Shake my head. I know he isn’t this vacant. He’s clever. He knows. He must know.

Oh.

He wants me to say it out loud. Admit it. Make it real.

John Watson, the soldier--always challenging me . (God I love it)

Shutter blink. Deep breath. This is important . Need to just tell him. He needs to hear it. I trust him, don't I? (Of course I do) Then why (?!) is my amygdala overreacting, flooding my body with norepinephrine--heart racing out of control, ears hot, face tingling with vasodilation, breath shaky and tenuous…(don't hyperventilate again, please don't!!)

‘You are thinking about this too much, Sherlock. Take another deep breath and say what you know is true. You've reached your conclusion--reveal it like you always do. You are right and you know it.’

I am right. I'm always right. Ok, John.

(Breathe) (Slow down) DO IT.

“From everyone,” I begin. He smiles, my blood sings in my veins. “You’re different from everyone I’ve ever met, ever known. Different from everyone who has ever been on this entire planet and different from anyone who will ever be on this planet.”

His eyes cloud, darken. He...understands? Does he? (He does, of course he does) Lips parting--I can hear his respiration rate increase as his breath whistles nearly silently. It sounds like he’s...trembling.

Every cell in my body desires him with a terrifying need that threatens to consume me, destroy me. I crave him--crave his touch, the way his tongue feels in my mouth, how his fingers grasp at my curls at the nape of my neck--

I want to own him. CAN’T.

“John...I...like I said before, I’m married to my work. It will always beckon me, and I will always go to it. I..I want...no, need…”

Badumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadumpbadump

His eyebrows raise as he dips his chin, encouraging me to continue my thought.

So patient. He is my opposite in every way. Why does that (he) seem so perfect?

“I need you,” I finish. “But...the Work...it wouldn’t be fair to you--”

“Have an affair with me.”

Everything that is decidedly NOT JOHN melts away--completely, totally, ridiculously irrelevant.

JOHN.

His words repeat in my mind, coating every neuron, flooding my senses--

HAVE AN AFFAIR WITH ME.

Oh, John.

Yes.

I am married to my work. I will always come back to it--come home to it…

But you’re the distraction. The secret lover, the thing I lust after, crave, need, in order to be fulfilled completely. The Work--I could never leave it. But if you’ll let me...if you want me…

I will have an affair with you, John Watson.

He raises his eyebrows--a question? Why is he...wasn’t I clear? I--what did I say?

>>Mind Palace

    >>Sensory Observations

         >>Auditory

Oh. Never actually said it out loud.

Shake my head. (Idiot)

“Oh...all right…,” he says, looking down.

Wait, what!? No! No!!

Do something! Fix it, dammit!!

Grab his coat collar, pull him onto my lap. He’s straddling my hips, chest to chest, his back to the cabbie. I fight the urge to let my head fall back onto the seat at the sheer ecstasy of having him pressed against me like this.

“Don’t be absurd, John.” I smile briefly before leaning forward to simultaneously shut the privacy window and bridge the distance between our mouths.

(Try to stay...try to stay here...with...with John…)

I can feel so much…

His lips, moving on mine--wet, soft, slick, opening slightly to allow access for my tongue…

His taste--sweet, perfect, simple…

I move my hands, sliding down his body until I reach the small of his back, where I splay my fingers out in an attempt to gain purchase and pull him even closer to me. The heat between us is incredible, full of pent up need.

Oh--ohhhhhhh--

His hands are in my hair...fingernails gently scraping my scalp while he slowly, deliberately, thrusts his tongue in and out of my mouth…

In------out------in------out------

Foreshadowing? Oh God

(Stay here...stay here…)

I’m moaning--an utterly wanton sound, baritone and silken, rumbling out of the depths of my body.

Oh--oh my --oh yes….

He’s--OH he’s grinding into my lap--

I...I--

(...with John...with John…)

Ahhhh, electricity--sparks shooting through my body, all my nerves are on fire, sensitive and raw and OH MY GOD YES!!

John--OH JOHN--

Need--

To try...to try to...what was I trying to do?

Unghhh this feels--

Feels--

(Focus! Stay...stay with John…)

Somehow, my hands are cupping his arse. Fits perfectly in my palms. Can’t help but knead as I hold him in place and thrust my hips up into him, every motion…

Ahhh wow every motion is…

Is...I can’t…(with John...with…)

He’s growling as he nips at my clavicle, licking a stripe along it to the hollow at the base of my throat, dipping his tongue in and out…in...and...

I--OH GOD --I...I...I can’t stop --

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Drowningdrowningdrowningdrowningdrowningdrowningdrowningdrowningdrowning

Dopamine--white hot pleasure--every muscle spasming--

(Is that me making that shockingly sexual sound?)

Oh God it is--don’t care don’t care don’t care don’t care--

“Ahhh JOHN, oh, yes!” I’m shouting?!

(With John...with John...stay….stay!)

He’s…? He’s clutching at me, hands everywhere at once--oh John--

“Fuck...ahhhhhh yes, Sherlock!” His voice sounds spectacular, broken, raspy, beautiful...the edge of a sob of pure passion.

Erratic movement--pressure against me--tension, body tight as a whip under my hands.

Total loss of...loss of…

Loss of--

OH MY GOD--

Amazing-sensational-overwhelming-brilliant-perfect-fantastic- LOVE -ooh YES !! JOHN !

John…

John…

Ohhh, John.

...start to surface...senses returning...warm, everywhere ...body spent, muscles lax...

Panting--hot breath on my neck, his body collapsed against mine--

My head--tilted back, resting against the seat--feels like dead weight--

Breathe…

Breathe…

He kisses my throat, then chuckles. I feel it more than hear it as I stroke his back slowly.

“Something funny?” I hear my voice as if I’m a kilometre away.

He braces himself against my chest with his hands and pushes up slightly, meeting my eyes and smiling. His hair is damp with sweat, cheeks flushed, lips parted as he continues regulating his breath.

Gorgeous.

“Figured we might actually make it back to the flat first. Looks like I was wrong,” he replies, eyes alight in humour.

“Problem?”

“Absolutely not.”

“Good.” I smile back at him.

His face changes suddenly--left eyebrow raised slightly, eyes hooded, devilish grin pulling his lips taut and crinkling the skin by his eyes.

Mischief.

Challenge.

“Actually,” he turns toward our taxi driver and opens the privacy window. “Scratch the Chinese place. Baker street, please.”

What? Didn’t he say he was starving earlier? “John?”

He faces me again, then leans in to kiss me suddenly, deeply, tongue again pressing into my mouth.

In…

Out…

In…

Out…

OH.

He pulls away, the devilish grin returns. “Problem?”

God I love him.

“None at all. To Baker street, Dr. Watson.”

relevance cab scene