John looked back and forth between the text message and the tall, dark-haired man leaning against the bar, then laughed aloud. Three bloody days of tailing the posh git, mapping out his every move and learning his routine, and it turned out not to be an assassination mission after all.
Which John was just as happy about, to be honest - apart from everything else, in those three days the man had spent an awful lot of time in the presence of police officers. John didn’t fancy having to cover up a hit that thoroughly. He wasn’t entirely used to London yet, after all his time away - Her Majesty’s Service had seemed perfectly happy to avail itself of his skills in other, warmer parts of the globe. And yet. One shot, one bloody lucky shot from some twelve-year-old Afghan with a gun, and now here he was.
Tall Posh Git was barely touching his drink. John’s initial brief had said private detective, although at the time he’d assumed that was a cover. From the way the man was surveying the wedding reception, though, there may have been some truth to it. His gaze flitted around the room like someone used to actually observing his surroundings rather than someone there to merely celebrate.
“Enjoying yourself yet?” Mike Stamford, slightly the worse for the champagne, threw an arm around John’s shoulders and squeezed him in a lopsided hug. “Thanks for being here, you know. Didn’t expect you to show up out of the blue in London like that!”
“Thanks for the last-minute invitation,” John answered. “It was great to reconnect with you, obviously, and the lovely Sarah is clearly worth celebrating.”
“She is, isn’t she?” Mike grinned across the dance floor at his new wife. “Never have figured out what she saw in me, but she said yes and that’s all that counts!” He clapped John on the shoulder - missing John’s scar by less than an inch, although John didn’t let the sudden jolt of pain show on his face. “You, on the other hand. We’ve got to find you someone. I want to dance at your wedding too.”
“Oh, I don’t know that I’m dancing tonight,” John said quickly. “The leg, you know. Figured I’d prop up the wall - or the bar, as the case may be - and just take it all in.”
Mike nodded, undaunted, and swung around to look over at the bar. And smirked. “Noticed him, did you?”
John tried to look embarrassed at being caught out. “I - um.”
“Yeah, I know you’re bi. After you and Bill had your thing back in med school, everyone knew. Man didn’t exactly keep his mouth shut.”
“Bloody hell.” The embarrassment wasn’t faked now. “I didn’t realize he was kissing and telling - he had issues with the whole men thing. Still does, for all I know.”
Mike shrugged, obviously not bothered. “Haven’t seen him in years. Mr. Tall, Dark, and Sulking over there just so happens to be single and gay too, though, so I’d be happy to introduce you if you want. Not that most people can stand being around him for more than five minutes at a time, mind you, but you’re welcome to have a run at him if you like.”
Perfect. John forced a bit of a smile to his face. “If it wouldn’t be too much trouble . . .”
“Not at all! Come on.” Mike grabbed John’s arm and not-entirely-steadily led him to where Tall Posh Git was leaning against the bar. “John, I want you to meet Sherlock. Sherlock, this is John.”
The target - Sherlock - set his drink down and fixed Mike with a puzzled frown. “Why?”
“Why do you want him to meet me?”
Mike glanced at John with a mischievous grin, then clapped him on the back again (John was ready for it this time). “Because he’s dying to get a leg over and he thinks you’re bloody hot, you idiot. It’s what people do at weddings. Sarah’s calling me - you be on your best behavior, Sherlock, and you may just get the best shag of your life. G’luck!” And he tacked off through the milling crowd.
Well. John caught his lip in his teeth and looked up at Sherlock awkwardly. Christ, that man is tall. “Um. Not really the type of introduction I was expecting.”
Sherlock studied him silently for several seconds, then tilted his head to one side and narrowed his eyes. “Afghanistan or Iraq?”
“Afghanistan or Iraq? Or - oh, I see. It’s both.”
“How did you-”
“It’s obvious, really,” Sherlock said. “Your haircut is military, your limp and the way you jumped when Mike smacked your shoulder say wounded in action. Tan says Afghanistan or Iraq. And your response to my question indicates you had to think about it, which means you spent long enough in the service you had to actually pinpoint where you’d been. Thus both.”
John blinked. “That was incredible.”
And then it was Sherlock’s turn to look surprised. “Really?”
“Unexpected and brilliant - yeah, it was.” John leaned up against the bar, shooting Sherlock a slantwise glance through his lashes. “Mike already let the cat out of the bag, I know, but that means I can tell you straight up that I find both of those things to be as sexy as fuck. Tall and thin is kind of my type, too. He knows me better than I expected.”
Sherlock took a long time to reply - long enough John was second-guessing his approach. “I should say I don’t usually do this,” he said eventually. “This isn’t - it’s not really my area.”
“What - being picked up at weddings? Or just by blokes?”
“Being picked up by . . . someone normal.”
“Want me to bugger off?” Please say no. “I’d be disappointed, but I wouldn’t be offended or anything. It’s the downside to being both gay and a bit forward - you’re bound to misjudge sooner or later.”
Sherlock frowned. “But you’re not gay - you’re clearly bisexual. I’ve been watching you flirt with women, too.”
“Aha - you just admitted you’ve been watching me!” John’s grin was genuine - hitting on Tall Posh Git (as he’d started calling him in his head, since the brief neglected to mention his real name) was a lot more fun than he’d expected. “This isn’t entirely one-sided, then. And yeah, you’re right, but ‘gay’ is easier to explain than ‘Kinsey four pansexual panromantic’ to people who don’t really get it. The difference is irrelevant, in this case.”
Sherlock studied him again, even longer this time. John got the strange idea that the man was trying to analyze his body language, trying to read something . . . luckily John had enough undercover experience to not get flustered, but it still wasn’t fun. He sipped his all-but-forgotten drink and waited patiently under the scrutiny.
“You’re a military man,” Sherlock finally announced. “Good at giving orders, I should imagine.”
Oh god, is he saying what I think he’s saying? John drew himself up to his full height. “Very good,” he acknowledged gravely.
Something complicated passed over Sherlock’s face. Whatever the combination of thoughts, it settled into something very like anticipation. “Seen a lot of action, then?” he murmured.
“Enough for a lifetime.” John let himself imagine this tall, composed man coming apart beneath him, his rigid self-control stripped away a bit at a time-
Sherlock paused, taken aback by the intensity of whatever he saw in John’s eyes, but then he nodded and leaned forward so his lips were nearly brushing John’s ear. “Want to see some more?”
John couldn’t resist returning the favor. “God, yes,” he breathed against Sherlock’s neck. The flick of his tongue against Sherlock’s carotid sent a shiver up the taller man’s entire frame.
John was jubilant as they slipped away together through a side entrance. THIS is why I was assigned to the job, a voice in the back of his head crowed. Plays to my other skillset. Best fucking assignment ever.