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Over a Pint

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John shook his head. “You’re wrong.”

“Don’t say I didn't warn you. When they’re relegated, you’re gonna owe me another of these.” Greg tapped the side of his glass.

“Ah, fuck off.” They each took a long sip of their pints, then set them back on the bartop. They sat in silence for a moment as people chattered around them.

“Erm… how is everything with you?” John asked.

“I’m alright.”

“How’s your wife?”

“She’s fine. The divorce isn’t dragging out, so I suppose that’s good.”

John winced. “Shit, sorry. I forgot.”

Greg waved a hand dismissively. “Don’t worry about it.”

John stared into his pint, as if he were trying to remember something. “How are your kids?” he asked.

“They’re… fine.” Greg narrowed his eyes in suspicion.

“Everything’s fine?”

“Yes… what’s going on?” Greg had learned that it was never a good thing when John was withholding information from him.

“Sherlock said you wanted to talk to me. About something important.”

“How does he know that?” Greg wondered if Molly had told Sherlock about their conversation.

“How does he know anything? Rattled it off as soon as I told him I was heading out for a pint with you. ‘You’re not at either of your locals. There’s no rugby on. You just did this two weeks ago and it’s usually less than once a month.’ I don’t remember the rest.”

“But he doesn’t know what I wanted to ask you?”

“No, or he’d have said. So what is it?”

Greg steeled himself. “It’s nothing to do with me, it’s about you.”

“Okay.”

Greg eyed John anxiously, then took a huge gulp of his pint.

“Oh, god,” John said.

Greg set his glass down and used the back of his hand to wipe the foam from his mouth. He wasn’t sure he was drunk enough yet for this. But he’d promised Molly that they would be relatively sober.
Finally he asked, “Why did you break up with that girl? The one you took to Cornwall.”

John looked confused. “She broke up with me. Said I never paid any attention to her.”

“Did you?”

“I don’t know. She was a good shag, but she wasn’t very interesting. I kept nodding off listening to her talk about telly. And I had to run out on a couple of our dates to go help Sherlock with a case.” He wrinkled his nose. “Why does any of this matter? You never even met her.”

“How much of it had to do with Sherlock?”

John slowly realized what Greg was asking, and his temper flared. “We’re not a couple.”

“I know that.”

“Then what’s all this?” John accused.

“Look, I know you’re not together. But.” Greg tapped his fingers on the bartop. “Have you ever considered it?”

John stared him down, and Greg kept an eye out for any sudden movements. Instead, John sighed. Maybe he did want to talk. “Things are… complicated. He’s the best person I’ve ever met. I don’t know what to do with that.”

“Is it cause he’s a man?”

“Er, no. That’s not been a problem for me before, at least.”

“I didn't know that.”

“Yeah, well. I haven’t now. Since I’ve been back in London.”

Greg grinned. “You mean since you met Sherlock.”

John raised his voice. “Yes, alright? I don’t know what you want me to say.”

Greg laughed at how easy this had turned out to be. “So what’s the holdup?”

To Greg’s surprise, John laughed bitterly. “Are you joking?”

“No.” They both stared at each other in confusion.

“He’s not interested in any of that,” John said. “And if he was, it wouldn’t be with me.”

“Bollocks!” Greg shouted, so loudly that people turned to look. “He’s gone on you.”

John shook his head. “I don’t know where you’re getting this.”

“Are you kidding? He can’t go two minutes without asking your opinion, or taking you to dinner, or writing needy things on your blog.”

“He’s always done that. That’s just how he is.”

“You’re wrong. You’ve only known him since you’ve known him.” Greg frowned. “If that makes sense. But I knew him before he knew you. He’s not like this with anyone else.”

John considered this. “Yeah, well, I’m his only friend, aren’t I?”

“He and Molly are friends now, apparently.”

John rolled his eyes. “Oh great, maybe I’ve been demoted. I don’t get any kisses on the cheek,” he said bitterly.

Greg boggled at this. “Are you seriously jealous of Molly Hooper?”

John frowned, and slumped in his seat. “No.”

“Listen.” Greg put a hand on John’s shoulder. “You’re it, for him. You’re the most important person in his life, by a mile.”

John mulled this over. “Yeah,” he said finally, sounding like he accepted it. “Okay.”

Greg thumped him on the shoulder and went back to nursing his pint. “Good.”

“But… that doesn’t mean he wants a relationship.” John cleared his throat. “Or.” He stared into space. “Hell, is he even gay?”

Greg laughed uproariously, causing him to cough out a little puddle of beer onto the bartop. “Yes. Definitely.”

John suddenly looked very interested. “Has he said something to you?”

“No.”

“Ha.”

“But he wouldn’t, would he? And anyways, I knew him for five years before you showed up. I’ve seen things.”

John was positively rapt now. “You’ve seen him with a man?”

“Not exactly. But I’ve seen himaround men.”

“Around who?” he asked, jealousy surging back.

“Men… a lot like you.” John looked confused, and Greg raised his eyebrows. “Captain.”

John shook his head. “I can’t tell what you’re getting at.”

“I won’t spell it out for you, then. You’ll have to figure that one out on your own.” Greg took another sip of his pint.

John sat silently for a long time, clearly processing everything he had heard. “And I’m just supposed to take your word for all of this?”

“John, you live with him. You must have realized.”

John sighed. “Okay, yes. Sometimes I look up, and he’s staring at me, but not in that think-y sort of way. Just… soft. And you have to wonder.”

Greg put his head in his hands. “You’re an idiot.”

“But what if I’m wrong?” John tapped a finger against his glass. “Sherlock and I… it’s not good for us to be apart. I don’t want to ruin this.”

“You’re not wrong. But it’s your decision.”

John sighed.

Greg hesitated, then said, “Will you do me a favour, though?”

“Hmm?”

“Just… don’t mention all those women around him,” Greg said. “I know you just want to get a leg over. But it hurts him.”

John took this in slowly, then sat up like he’d been shocked. “Oh, god. I’m shit.” He turned to Greg. “He really has no idea, does he?”

“No.”

“I thought he knew,” John insisted. “He knows everything.”

“Not this.”

“Oh christ. If he really… oh, god.” John threw on his jacket and shoved a five pound note into Greg’s hand. “I have to go.”