Though it has happened several times throughout the span of our friendship, I have never been prepared to handle a drunk Sherlock Holmes.
“Don’t be preposterous, Gavin,” Sherlock spat, leaning over the pub table to get in Lestrade’s face. “It was necessary for me to steal your identity in order to solve the case.”
I watched closely as he leaned back in the booth and finished off the last of his third scotch, convinced he had made his case clear and that Lestrade should be thanking him, not reprimanding him.
“Sherlock—it is illegal to impersonate an officer of the law,” Greg chuckled, sipping on his beer. It was rare to have Sherlock get plastered, and I could tell Greg was aiming to stay as sober as possible to see it through.
And I couldn’t help but laugh to myself, nose in my whiskey, endlessly captivated by how expressive Sherlock got with a few drops of alcohol in his system. But Sherlock caught me laughing and turned to me, mouth and eyes wide, looking utterly betrayed.
“You’re laughing at me!” he gasped.
“Sherlock,” I responded between laughs. “You’re being a ridiculous, overdramatic prat, of course I’m laughing at you.”
“How dare you, John,” Sherlock moaned. “I thought I could trust you.”
He threw his head backwards to indicate the severity of the betrayal, but all I could focus on were the lithe muscles of his neck. I licked my lips at the sight, but became self-conscious when I felt Greg staring.
Greg was a flesh and blood man, his blood runs hot just like mine, and he’s not as much of an idiot as Sherlock thinks he is. Certainly Greg knows what a man looks like when staring at the object of his sexual desire. Suddenly I felt flayed open and exposed.
“We’re soulmates, John, I should be able to count on you.” Sherlock’s whining brought my thoughts to a dead stop.
“W-what?” I heard myself choke out.
Both I and Greg were gawking at Sherlock, who was giving us a genuinely confused and innocent look back. My heart started beating a million miles per hour and my stomach felt full of bees, buzzing.
“Sherlock, what do you think the term ‘soulmate’ means?” Greg asked, barely hiding his smirk.
I could have throttled Greg.
“Two people who are destined to be in one another’s lives.” Sherlock was exasperated.
“Romantically?” Greg egged on.
I really wanted to throttle Greg.
“It could be, it doesn’t have to be, honestly, how dense are you?” he responded, waving his hand around in a circle to show the obviousness of the situation.
Greg glanced at me, as I’m swimming between embarrassed and angry, my cheeks dark red and burning.
I knew I could never admit out loud how excited I was to hear Sherlock call me that: a soulmate. I also would never admit how much it hurt to find out the flippancy in which Sherlock used that term.
“Sherlock,” I said through gritted teeth. “You can’t just call anyone your soulmate.”
He was looking at me now, with that frustratingly adorable childish look he got whenever he did not understand something and was fearful of upsetting me.
“Because…” I said. “It is a very serious term. Only meant to be used with the person you love the most. Romantically.”
Sherlock nodded, but did not say anything.
“I really ought to be going,” Greg interjected into the awkward silence. He was already standing up to go. “Early morning at the Yard tomorrow.”
Sherlock had invaded my personal space the entire cab ride home. This was always my least favorite part of drunk Sherlock—his inability to do even the simplest of things, like walking. It was annoying because Sherlock engulfed my smaller frame and though I’m strong, I do not always fare well with the dead weight of my flatmate.
But as I stood outside 221B, fumbling to keep Sherlock upright and to unlock the door simultaneously, I got reminded of the other reason this part of drunk Sherlock was annoying.
Every centimeter of skin Sherlock touched went aflame with the awareness that it was Sherlock touching me.
I have spent countless nights awake thinking about what it would be like to have Sherlock’s body against mine. And every fibre of my being was acutely aware of these fantasies and my current situation.
Touching is not something we did sober. Not with each other, anyway. Since Mary’s death there had been the occasional hug, but even that was a stretch.
Drunk Sherlock, however, had no qualms with draping his arms and body all over mine. In some ways it appeared as if he relished any and all physical contact he could make. And it made me sweaty and my mouth dry.
After too much struggling, we made it inside 221B and I gently helped Sherlock down onto the couch. When I tried to stand up, Sherlock locked his arms around my shoulders and would not let go.
“Hey—what gives?” I breathed out, my voice strained.
“I don’t want you to go,” Sherlock replied.
My heart leapt into his throat. I cherished the simplicity of Sherlock’s words.
He had no idea how loaded they were.
“Okay,” I said.
“You’ll stay?” Sherlock asked.
He pulled back just enough to look me directly in the eyes. I wondered who was breathing so heavily; I couldn’t quite tell. The air between us was mixing together and everything felt shared—time, space, breath.
“Y-yeah, of course.”
Sherlock’s eyes were navy blue galaxies that I could get lost exploring for the rest of my life. I was drowning in them and yet I wanted to dive deeper.
“You’re staring,” Sherlock’s inebriated drawl interrupted.
“Yeah.” I was breathless.
I watched Sherlock’s beautiful, endless eyes flick down to my lips and then stare back at me. The air between us was static electricity crackling with unused energy and too many things being held back.
I was shocked when Sherlock crashed our lips together in a clumsy act of desperation. I leaned into it and hungrily kissed him back. My hands moved to tighten in Sherlock’s gorgeous mess of curls and Sherlock clutched to my shoulders for balance.
The kisses were sloppy, wet, and sharp (due to the occasional tooth) but I felt his erection solidify in my jeans nonetheless.
Finally, I broke us apart to get oxygen and a level head. Their panting filled the quiet room and my chest hurt when I remembered Sherlock’s intoxication.
“We can’t do this,” I said, forcefully pulling away to create physical distance between us.
Sherlock looked devastated.
“Why?” he asked, and the tone of his voice squeezed my heart.
“Because you’re not sober, Sherlock. You can’t give honest consent,” I explained.
“But John,” he protested. “I meant it.”
I frowned, Sherlock’s words lost on me.
“That you’re my soulmate.”
The blush heated my face again, but I kept frowning.
“Sherlock, I thought I explained to you—”
“I know,” Sherlock interjected. They didn’t call alcohol liquid courage for no reason, and I could see he was determined to make the most out of it. “What you said, that’s what I meant.”
Warmth and affection burst throughout my body—I didn’t even realize the tears of joy forming in my eyes as I stared helplessly at the beautiful man before me.
“Not good?” Sherlock asked, zeroing in on me crying.
He saw everything, even when drunk.
“No—” I sniffed. “Sorry, really good. Very good.”
I wiped away the tears with the back of my hand before pulling Sherlock into a tight hug.
Sherlock later told me it felt like his head might pop off from how hard I was hugging him, but he was too drunk to care if it did. He nuzzled into my neck as the weight he had been carrying for years fell off his shoulders. His heart felt full and warm.
When I pulled back, I gave Sherlock a long, firm kiss on the forehead. I placed my hands on either of Sherlock’s shoulders, wearing a serious expression.
“We still can’t do anything tonight, Sherlock. I want our firsts to happen when you’re sober and sure of what you’re doing,” I said.
Sherlock nodded, albeit reluctantly.
“Can we... cuddle, at least?” he asked innocently.
“You might be scared when you wake up hungover. You might not remember any of this,” I explained.
“I never forget anything that has to do with you, John Watson.”
It took significant effort not to surge forward and kiss Sherlock Holmes again.
“Okay yeah, we can cuddle,” I conceded, my heart bursting.
Sherlock laid down and scooted to the outer edge of the couch, I crawled over him to lay on the inside. We both turned on their sides and I wrapped my arm around Sherlock’s waist, pulling him flush against his body.
We fit together perfectly.
And I wondered why it took us so long to figure it out.