John couldn’t help it. His eyes strayed. He was just strolling around, accompanying his sister during her shopping (mostly window shopping, to be fair, because they were all broke) and bored to tears. Still, it was better than being home. Especially when, like now, you were treated to a heavenly vision.
Inside a restaurant, in full view of the window, a young man sat at a table for two. It might be the reflection of the candle in front of him on sharp cheekbones, the purple shirt just a tad too tight – “That’s aubergine, Johnny,” Harry pointed out, as always annoyingly reading his thoughts – or the curls that would have made a Renaissance statue envious. Fact was, John stared like a very hungry little match girl, but not for food.
His sister allowed him five minutes or so to gape before bodily dragging him away, hissing, “He’ll notice you and think you’re a creep. And that’s not what you want, is it, Johnny?”
“What I want is for you to stop calling me Johnny, but it’s not happening. I’m not ten anymore, Harry!” he hissed back, but he followed her obediently because, as much as he didn’t like it, she had a point.
He was sure that would be the highlight of his day, but on their way back, an hour later, John threw a longing look at the same restaurant window, wondering who was the undoubtedly gorgeous creature that landed a date with Cheekbones. He couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw the man still alone at his table, checking his phone, sighing deeply and then wilting on his chair, a kicked puppy look on his face. Did someone seriously have the gall to stand him up? Were they fucking blind?
That was it. he was doing something about it. …Wait. What if the stranger wasn’t gay? Or bi, at least. John wanted to play knight in shining armour, but he could provoke a scene if he gauged the situation wrongly. Thank God that Harry was there. His sister’s gaydar was much stronger than his own. He barely got out the words, “Do you think…?” when she replied.
“Gay. Very gay, Johnny. I promise you. Go and make his day. For all we know, this is some asshole’s idea of a joke.” Harry pushed him. That girl would never stop being reckless.
Harry making him stumble inside gave extra credibility to his being in a rush, though. John beelined for the pouting man (it should be illegal to look this good when sullen) and declared, as loud as he dared, “Sorry honey, family emergency – you know my sister – and I think the cat stole my phone, I couldn’t find it so I just headed here as soon as I could, sorry again.” Immediately after, he murmured, “My name’s John, whoever stood you up is an idiot, can I help cheer you up?”
The gorgeous stranger glared at him, and hissed, “Sherlock, I never had a boyfriend, but I had almost got the owner to feel sorry enough for my plight to offer me dessert!”
John blushed. Oh god. He’d just made an ass of himself and ruined the other man’s day, hadn’t he? Somehow, none of this made it out of his mouth. All he blurted out (loudly, but thankfully it was safe) was, “You’re so clever!”
“Do you think so?” Sherlock asked, frowning. He was sure that Wilkes, or any other of his former classmates, would have deemed his little trick pathetic. Just this side of begging. Not that he cared what anyone thought, especially not idiots like them.
“Of course I think so, love. And I’ll get you the biggest dessert they have here, that’s the least I can do,” John replied, and he meant it.
Once again, Sherlock frowned. Softly, he queried, “Why would you? I mean, sure, as a medical student you might feel compelled to help, but since I proved I didn’t need help in the first place…why would you spend your undoubtedly meagre funds on a stranger, and stick around instead of feeling offended, even betrayed for being taken in by my little act?”
“Well, I ruined your plans, didn’t I? It’s hardly your fault they should give you a BAFTA, so being angry at you would be really stupid. But have I met you before? I’d swear that I’d remember someone like you, but how else would you know I’m a medical student?” John countered, just as quietly.
“Your hands, they’re all pricked. Of course, this could mean that you work in some way in the fashion industry, but nobody involved in that would be caught dead in a jumper that complemented them so little, when something as easy as a different colour might draw out your eyes and generally make you much more stylish. It could also be that you’re forced to mend your own clothes, with no one to help, but if you were quite that bad off you wouldn’t have entered this place at all, much less offered to buy me anything. So, the most logical option was medical student practicing his stitches, and not quite having got the hang of them yet,” the other explained.
“Brilliant,” the doctor to be breathed reverently, “you’re absolutely fucking brilliant.”
This man was puzzling Sherlock more and more. His deduction had – only half accidentally – contained a disparaging opinion on the other’s attire, and again, instead of becoming furious, John seemed completely fascinated.
Finally, a waiter interrupted them – apparently he’d wanted to let them chat a minute to be sure this wouldn’t end in a loud breakup and the both of them stalking out of the place – and they needed to pay attention to something beyond the other. Honestly, John pointed at something on the menu at random, eager to get the man to go away. Unsurprisingly, the other knew very well what he wanted.
As soon as the too-cheerful man left them alone, Sherlock declared, “You’re not boring.”
John chuckled. “Wow…thanks for the great compliment.”
“It is, John. Most people are brainless idiots – I deduce them in under a minute, and they’re not worthy of any more attention. You aren’t like everyone else – you have hidden depths, and I can sense them, but I can’t see all of them. Not yet, and for me, that’s unusual. And enticing,” Sherlock admitted.
“Do you want to prod me a bit more?” John offered, leaning towards him.
“I’d be delighted to,” Sherlock purred.
The rest of the dinner turned into a game – half Deduction, Mycroft-style, half Twenty Questions “because I can’t deduce you back and I deserve to know something about you, too!”
Once again, the more he knew the more he wanted to learn. Possibly because John didn’t purposefully hide secrets, freely acknowledged and praised each correct deduction, but still had so many facets to his personality that after the dinner Sherlock still felt like he knew next to nothing, and was hungry for much more.
Yep, even after the biggest, most chocolatey dessert the restaurant had, which the boys shared, and which made Sherlock groan obscenely and taught him all about John’s lip-licking obsession. You’d think the man had grown up without paper towels. No matter his new acquaintance’s financial troubles, Sherlock was sure his family wasn’t quite that bad off.
In the end, he couldn’t resist anymore. When John’s teasing tongue appeared once again, Sherlock chased it with his own. The resulting kiss tasted of chocolate and spices and fire, and they both groaned into it.
Once parted for breath, John’s eyes swivelled around, looking for angry or disgusted eyes, but all he found was the blessing gaze of their waiter, who was grinning from ear to ear.
“Shall we get the bill, before I am overwhelmed again by your raw sensuality and we end giving more of a spectacle, which you don’t seem to be comfortable with?” Sherlock asked, chuckling.
“But you are?!” the aspiring doctor queried, sounding half impressed half shocked, and blushing brilliantly.
“Anyone who doesn’t like it can turn their heads; besides, I might have a bit of an exhibitionist streak. I blame the art in my blood, you know, a grand-something of mine was a decent painter,” the other explained, with vague but fascinating gestures.
Somehow, John found himself hypnotised by the slender hands. “Well, that explains it,” he laughed. He would have laughed at anything.
“I happen to have a flat not too far from here, so if your sister – don’t make that face, you noticed me, I noticed you, it’s only fair – can make your excuses and say you met a friend or something, we could indulge in some non-PDA,” Sherlock offered.
“On the first date?” John countered, half-joking. Not that he was against it, he very much was for it, but…all he’d wanted was to cheer up an abandoned soul. He‘d never thought he’d get a boyfriend out of it, mostly because he didn’t feel in the right league to aspire to him. He had a feeling that explaining it would be a bit hard. Or trying to contain Sherlock. Then again, he suddenly discovered, he didn’t want to contain him. Maybe there was some art in his blood, too.
“Well, I definitely don’t know everything about you, but I still know more than most people have deduced about their prospective partners after their twelfth date. And by then, one should be able to decide if they’ll go after what they want. I’m just a bit…quicker. If you want to go slow, I suppose we can.” Sherlock sighed deeply.
“No. Quick is good. Quick is very good,” John assured. Even if probably the other would be just as quick to dump him. Oh well. He’d lived without Sherlock this long. He would survive once this gorgeous, clever man left…hopefully.
Sherlock gave him the smile of the cat who just ate a canary covered in cream, and called their waiter over. Much to everyone’s surprise, Angelo (who turned out to be the owner, too) waved them both away, with a standing invitation to return and a recommendation to Sherlock to not let John escape. “This is the right one…I’m still wondering how he can be the only one with enough common sense not to stand you up!”
“So, how many times did you pull that trick on the poor man?” John asked, laughing, once they were out of the place.
“About ten, don’t pity him too much. He can afford a few free tiramisu, he’s always packed – and rightfully so,” Sherlock replied, giggling in reflex. “Now, your sister was wise enough to leave a long time ago, so just text her, and then we can catch a cab. I’d tell you not to care about the state of my kitchen, but I’m hoping we won’t see it at all…”
John obeyed before realising he’d done so. Tonight was going to be brilliant.