Greg hates stake-outs. They’re intolerably boring and he’s always on edge the whole time. Of course, having Sherlock Holmes along this time does not help. They’ve settled into a window table at Le Cafe Bon, an achingly pretentious coffee shop across the street from the yoga studio where their suspect has a 1:00 PM class every Wednesday.
Sally’s parked around the corner, watching the back door, and she’d stated with no room for persuasion that she’d rather be alone than share a car with the Freak, so Sherlock, John, and Greg get to cosy up together at one of the cafe’s tiny, intimate tables. The waitress deposits three menus, which Sherlock intently ignores in favour of staring at the yoga studio entrance.
“You have to eat.”
Sherlock sighs and Greg can tell they’ve had this argument before. “Transport, John. We’re on a case, remember?”
“Yes, but you haven’t eaten in two days and, more importantly, it’s going to look a bit odd if we’re sitting here tucking in while you perch like some sort of abstaining vulture. Besides, you’ll just eat off of my plate anyway and I’m starving.”
Lestrade chuckles, not sure if that’s a joke, but Sherlock heaves a sigh and says, “Fine. Order me something. Just not –”
“Yes, yes, nothing with mushrooms.” The waitress comes by and John orders Sherlock a chicken and gruyere panini with a side of chips instead of the vegetables on the menu – Greg sees the slightest hint of a smile as Sherlock studiously stares at each woman carrying an overpriced yoga mat who passes the window – and the cream of mushroom soup and a salad for himself. Greg orders himself a piece of quiche and wonders if John’s choice was a way to ensure there would be no forced sharing with Mr. No-Mushrooms-Please Consulting Detective.
John and Lestrade have long tired of watching the parade of middle-aged, middle-class yoga attendees by the time their order is up. The waitress unceremoniously drops off their plates and Sherlock’s gaze is momentarily distracted. Glancing frequently out the window, he peels the top piece of bread off his sandwich, removes the sundried tomatoes with his fork, and drops them on top of John’s salad. Lestrade waits for a complaint or even a sigh, but John’s too busy removing strips of red bell pepper from his salad and placing them onto Sherlock’s sandwich. Satisfied with the switch, they both begin to tuck in, John avariciously and Sherlock fastidiously.
John and Greg chat away as they eat, Sherlock chiming in occasionally without looking away from the yoga studio. As they discuss motives, John occasionally snatches a chip from Sherlock’s plate. Sherlock doesn’t say a word but Greg notices that he only chooses the smaller, crunchier chips, leaving the bigger, more potato-y ones for John.
They’ve just finished up when Greg gets a text from Sally that their mark just left by the back entrance. He throws down a handful of notes and they’re on the move.
Greg figures it must be a one-off thing, Sherlock eating on a case, because he doesn’t see it again. Sometimes, though, when they’re at NSY, pouring over crime scene photos, evidence bags, lab results, and it’s obvious they’ll be there a while, John will step out and bring them all back coffee. He learns their orders after the first time, and Greg always happily welcomes the cup, no sugar and just the right amount of milk. Sherlock, he notices, always takes his as if it’s his due, with nary an acknowledgment or thanks to John.
One morning, when the sun’s on its way up and they’ve been there all night, John brings a brown paper box of pastries in with the coffee. The Yarders swarm appreciatively, but Sherlock studiously ignores the box, continuing to pace, ripping sections out of official reports and pinning them to the wall next to crime scene photos, making connections none of them quite understand yet. That is until John lifts the last pastry out of the box, a warm apple cruller, and takes a bite. Sherlock stills and watches John chew until John, who had been examining the victim’s toxicology reports for the umpteenth time, turns and sees Sherlock staring. He looks puzzled, then notices Sherlock’s gaze on the cruller.
“Oh, for –” He steps across the room and holds the cruller up to Sherlock’s mouth. Sherlock takes a bite, then continues his reorganization of the evidence. Sherlock starts ranting about inept evidence collection and only shuts up whenever John holds the pastry up for him to take a bite. No one in the room dares comment.
It’s definitely the first time Sherlock’s ever attended the Yard’s annual holiday party, and it may be the last, as he’s already picked fights with Anderson and Dimmock and made two new sergeants cry. John, on the other hand, can come anytime as far as Greg’s concerned. He’s ignoring Sherlock for the most part while regaling a group of young officers, still wet behind the ears, with some of his more amusing med school stories.
Lestrade and Gregson are complaining to each other about the administration at the school their kids both attend and Lestrade, between sips of his punch, glances around to make sure Sherlock’s not done any permanent damage. Even when not in conversation with each other, he notices, John and Sherlock seem to orbit each other, staying near and sharing glances every once in a while. He can tell when John gets to a story Sherlock’s heard, because the man smiles fondly as John reaches the denouement and at the conclusion, when the staff sergeants are laughing, Sherlock’s the only one John looks at to see a reaction.
Gregson excuses herself to the toilets and Greg figures now is as good a time as any to brave the buffet. He loads up a plate with a rather unappealing pasta salad, some tiny bits of bread with other bits on top, and a few safe-looking chocolate biscuits. He heads to the centre of the room where John and his adoring crowd are stationed, Sherlock and Sally next to him deep in heated debate.
They’ve circled around and ended up brushing elbows, although John is still recounting something about morgue pranks and fake zombies and Sherlock has started to almost, very nearly, pleasantly discuss their latest case with Sally.
John gives Greg a happy – and maybe slightly tipsy – smile as he approaches and Sherlock ignores him entirely until he notices Greg’s plate of food. Without so much as a request, he picks up a bruscetta with smoked salmon and moves to bite into it before stilling. John, noticing the movement, turns and laughs before reaching over and removing a piece of dill garnishing the salmon. Satisfied, Sherlock eats the appetizer in one bite. Greg huffs and guards his plate more judiciously.
Greg’s had a few and in his cups he decides it’s clearly the time to find out, once and for all, if they’re shagging. Sherlock is sufficiently distracted railing against Sally and John has approached the refreshments table, going back for some more of the frankly lethal punch.
One full glass of punch sits on the sideboard already and a second is in John’s hand. He’s slowly, intently, lowering the ladle into the punch bowl against the edge, pouring some ladlefuls into the glass and dumping some back into the bowl. Greg clears his throat and John, looking up, sees his empty glass and mistakes his purpose.
“Sorry, Lestrade, here, I’ll fill yours before I finish.” He dutifully pours punch into Greg’s waiting glass before returning to his careful scooping. “This one’s for Sherlock.” He sighs. “He throws a fit if there’s cranberries anywhere near him, but the little buggers are difficult to avoid.” He pours a little more into the glass, filling it approximately halfway. “That’ll have to do him.”
Lestrade laughs at John’s cavalier and co-conspiratorial smile. Now’s as good a time as any, he figures, and goes for it. “John, are you and Sherlock...well, I mean, with the punch, and the food, and you’re always touching each other, and I just. I mean, it’s fine if you are, I was just...curious.”
John’s looking at him with blatant amusement, waiting for him to stumble to a finish before answering. “You want to know if we’re fucking. I know everyone assumes it, but we aren’t.” He glances over at Sherlock, who’s swinging one hand dramatically while Sally crosses her arms and rolls her eyes. A small smile plays across his lips and there’s definite fondness in his eyes. “We’re friends, and well, that’s quite brilliant actually.”
“But, well, do you want to? You know, with Sherlock?”
John actually laughs. “I’d rather not, quite frankly. Sherlock is, by his own admission, a disinterested lover at best and a cruel one at worst. And, despite what everyone we meet seems to think, I am actually interested in women, for the most part.”
Even though he’d spent a while deliberating whether or not they were fucking like animals, the admission that they, just as friends, have discussed their own, um, predilections, doesn’t quite compute. “Oh. Well, I just thought I’d ask, in case, I don’t know, you needed to talk about it, or have an ally, or whatever,” he finishes lamely, knowing it’s out of his own prurient interest, not some altruistic interest in John’s feelings. John takes this good-naturedly and claps him on the shoulder before suggesting they break up whatever Sherlock and Sally are discussing.
John and Greg return to where Sherlock and Sally are having a conversation. Well, one could call it a conversation, although it bears more than a passing resemblance to a quick-fire trading of insults and one-up-manship.
“and you may remember the Finch-Jones case, in which your deplorable lack of attention to the suspect’s left index knuckle nearly resulted in a complete dismissal by the courts.”
“Yeah, Freak? What about the time you sent us off on a wild goose chase about some suspected car-jacking because you didn’t know the witness was talking about Grand Theft Auto?”
Sherlock actually scoffs at that and is about to retaliate when John slips the glass of punch into his hand and interrupts with a bland smile, “and what delightful, non-confrontational topic are we discussing today?” Sherlock huffs but takes a drink and stays silent as John, Sally, and Lestrade discuss last night’s match. They’ve moved onto speculation about that year’s Doctor Who Christmas special – Greg watches it each year with his kids, it’s become one of their favourite Christmas traditions – when Sherlock interrupts.
“Really, John.” Sherlock has fished one fat cranberry out of his punch and is holding it between his thumb and forefinger, staring at it as if it has committed some heinous crime.
“Oh, for god’s sake...” John rolls his eyes but without malice, and opens his mouth. Sherlock deposits the cranberry on John’s tongue almost delicately then wipes his fingers on the cuff of John’s shirt. John swallows and mutters something about deplorable manners, then turns back to Sally, who is actually physically gaping. He ignores her incredulous, bug-eyed look and picks up the thread of conversation interrupted by Sherlock’s discovery.
It’s not the weirdest thing he’s ever seen Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson do, but yes, it’s a little strange. Especially considering that he now has confirmation that they’re friends and not lovers. Lovers, at least, are used to each other’s mouths and tongues and – he shakes his head to clear it of that line of thought.
When John brings over two dessert plates and Sherlock scrapes his whipped cream onto John’s Christmas pudding and John in turn removes the garnishing cherry and places it onto Sherlock’s chocolate cake, Greg thinks maybe weird just suits them.