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An Evening In

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“We did it,” panted John triumphantly, sinking onto the sofa. Sherlock was surveying him from the doorway, looking dashingly windswept and only slightly out-of-breath, despite having spent the afternoon chasing a crazed killer over London and trapping him with a fishing rod. The back of John’s mind announced that it would be content to sit here and gaze at Sherlock all night, thank you very much. The rest of John told it to shut up.

“Should keep your blog occupied for a while,” said Sherlock sarcastically. He pushed the bloodied fishing rod into the laundry hamper. "It should be safe there."

"Sherlock, you can't just leave your bloody murderer-catching rod with the laundry! Poor Mrs Hudson won't want to deal with it. After all, she's not our housekeeper."

Sherlock chuckled. John snorted, and soon they were both laughing. Post-case exhilaration, decided John.

John stood up, still smiling, and grabbed his coat, glancing out the window at the dusty sunset.

“Where are you going?” Sherlock asked immediately.

“Just out. I haven’t been to the pub in ages. I’m going to meet Greg.” Staying in with Sherlock in the afterglow of a case was not likely to help John keep his feelings for his flatmate hidden.

“He won’t be there,” said Sherlock.

“What? How do you know?”

Sherlock ignored him. “There are only two reasons for attending the pub: alcohol and company. The company will not be there. Alcohol can be obtained from other places. For example, here.”

“We don’t… keep alcohol in the flat,” said John, suspicious.

The cupboard door swung open to reveal several bottles. “I went shopping,” Sherlock said.

“YOU went shopping?” Something strange was going on.

“Now you can stay here. We can- I don’t know. Watch telly. Chat. Whatever it is that ordinary people do.”

“We’re going to have a night in then?” asked John. His voice was laced with confusion, but Sherlock didn't look inclined to explain, so John let it go. “Shall I get a takeaway?”

“Not hungry,” said Sherlock.

“Well, I don’t know what you’re made of, but I am. I’ll get something.”

*

They started drinking along with the food. John managed to get Sherlock to eat some noodles, and they had a duel with the chopsticks, which Sherlock won.

“You cheated,” said John, grinning.

“The rules did not stipulate that only one chopstick was allowed,” argued Sherlock, pouring another drink.

“You’re going to get drunk,” said John, laughing.

“I don’t get drunk,” said Sherlock disdainfully. “I’m far too dignified.” And he prodded John with a chopstick.

*

John refused to play Cluedo, despite Sherlock's wheedling, so they played Snakes and Ladders instead. Surprisingly, John was winning.

Sherlock was unexpectedly well-behaved, waiting until he had gone down the same snake three times before starting to complain. "Well obviously there's no skill involved."

"Nope," said John, satisfied. "Just chance. You could try deducing what the dice roll will be."

Sherlock gave him a black look. "Chance. It's all chance, and I'm not interested in making a fool of myself over it."

John grinned at Sherlock's petulant expression. "It's relaxing. Probably good for you to lose at something once in a while."

"Why would that be good?"

"Stop you being such an arrogant sod, that's why."

Sherlock glared at the board. "That's not what snakes look like. That pattern and coloring is entirely fictitious and would be a severe evolutionary disadvantage, and the proportion of head to body is wrong for the correct number of vertebrae."

"Just roll the dice, Sherlock. It doesn't matter. You're still clever even if you lose."

John won.

*

A while after that, Sherlock was watching Poirot and shouting at it- "Well, of course that's the answer!", "No, no, NO! You've got it wrong!", "Look in the other room!"- while John lay flopped on the sofa watching Sherlock's antics. John didn't notice that the episode had finished until Sherlock wobbled over to sit on top of him, looking slightly peevish. "I worked it out first, John!"

"Hmm?" John blinked up at Sherlock, shoving him off of his stomach and onto the floor. "Get off, you sod. You're heavy."

Sherlock twisted round to put his head on John's legs. "Besides, you're a much better associate than that Hastings," he said.

Sherlock's voice was blurry with the lateness of the hour and the alcohol he'd drunk, but the comment still sent a flare of warmth through John. Luckily it was dark, so Sherlock couldn't see John's blush. Crawling off of the sofa, John grabbed another DVD and put it on. Perhaps he should stop drinking now. It was obviously going to his head.

*

As it happened, they didn't stop drinking. The DVD John had put on turned out to be from his box set of Merlin. John declared a movie night and made popcorn, with Sherlock watching intently- "This could be an interesting way of murdering someone, John; I may have to conduct experiments into the velocity of popping kernels"-, and they settled down to watch. More to stop Sherlock grumbling about the predictable plots, lack of character depth and obvious motives than anything, John suggested that they make it into a drinking game- a shot for each time Arthur didn't notice Merlin using magic and one for each time Arthur insulted Merlin. This got Sherlock to shut up and watch for a while.

Eventually, Sherlock leaned over. "John."

"Mmm?"

"I propose a new rule- a shot each time there SHOULD have been a kiss between the arrogant prince and the wizard with the ridiculous ears."

John choked on his popcorn. "Sorry, what?"

Sherlock put on his bored-with-explaining-to-stupid-ordinary-people voice. "The level of gay subtext is sufficiently high to render such a game worthwhile. Surely you can see the way they tease each other and bicker, yet have moments in which it is obvious that they mean a great deal to each other?"

"Don't you think you're reading too much into that?" asked John, suppressing the slightly panicked chuckle which was trying to get out at Sherlock calmly discussing gay shipping. "Anyone can bicker. You and I bicker!"

"Excellent observation." John couldn't see Sherlock's face in the darkened room, but he sounded amused.

John changed the subject rapidly. Clearly alcohol made Sherlock much more interested in affection. Which, despite being moderately amusing, was not helpful in the slightest to John's resolution to ignore his feelings for his flatmate.

*

By the time the DVD finished, Sherlock was lying across John's legs, practising the violin in midair. John made to get up to turn off the television, and the detective's hand shot out to grab his wrist. "No."

John firmly twisted his arm out of Sherlock's grip, preventing Sherlock's fingers coming anywhere near John's rocketing pulse. "Oi! Just let me turn the TV off."

"That would not be wise, John. I need you to stay here. I am busy composing and any movement will make me lose the thought. You happen to provide just the right amount of warmth and comfort to stimulate my mental capacity."

"You're composing? But you're not writing anything down."

"Mind palace, John! I'm storing it. You're being disruptive. Quiet."

Sighing, John settled back onto the sofa. "I don't suppose there was any chance that drinking would make you more considerate."

*

"John? I'm bored."

John tapped his foot to get rid of the pins and needles. "Maybe you should try doing something other than lying on me?"

With an indecipherable grumble, Sherlock scooted over. John suppressed a regretful sigh at the sudden absence of Sherlock's comforting weight, and stood up.

"Shall I make some tea?"

"Dull." Tea was dismissed with an irritable flick of Sherlock's head.

"Well, what do you want to do then?"

There was a clink of glass in the dark as Sherlock took another drink. "Let's play Truth or Dare."

John shook his head to clear it. "What?"

"You heard. Come on. Everyone knows how to play this game. I bet I can work out what you'll say each time."

He might be more drunk than he felt, John reflected. That almost sounded like fun. "Aaaalright," he acquiesced. "But I get to go first."

*

"Truth or dare?"

John could see the ghost of Sherlock's grin in the feeble light from the street lamp outside. "Dare."

Damn. What to make Sherlock do? The drunker part of John's mind had some suggestions, which the remaining corner of sobriety stamped on before they could make it to his mouth. "I dare you to... send Anderson a really polite text. A friendly text."

Sherlock groaned. "Anderson is an imbecile."

"Well, it wouldn't be much of a dare if it was easy."

Sherlock tapped at his phone, holding up the finished product for John's inspection. "'Dear Anderson. Good Evening. I hope you are well. Wishes, Sherlock Holmes.'"

John squinted at it. "You missed a word."

"No I didn't."

"Yes, you did, Sherlock! The phrase is 'best wishes'. You missed out the 'best'."

"I conscientiously left it out. ‘Ill wishes’ sounded a bit hostile, and I'm not willing to send Anderson best wishes. There are limits."

"It can't be too hard! You've already written 'hope you are well'."

"I left some words out there too."

"Oh, really? What were they?"

"'at the bottom of a.'"

John snorted. "Alright. Good enough. It sounds a bit weird though."

"I'm allowed to send incoherent texts. I'm drunk."

*

"Very well, John. Truth...or...dare."

"Um," said John. He didn't want to give Sherlock an opportunity to make a fool of him. Actually, that seemed to rule out both options. Sherlock had crawled into his lap again. "Let's go with dare."

"I dare you to go to Barts and pick up some body parts for me."

"Sherlock. It's the middle of the night. You can't use Truth or Dare to make me do your errands! You can pick up your own bloody body blits. Bits."

Sherlock pouted. It made him look unreasonably adorable. John's hand floated towards Sherlock's face, seemingly of its own volition, and he yanked it back before it could get close.

"Fine. Then I dare you to dance with me."

"What?" John's brain gave a little hiccup. Sherlock was acting very strange. Then again, the idea of dancing with Sherlock was distinctly appealing. He could always blame it on the alcohol.

Sherlock rummaged around. There was a click, and swirling waltz music began to fill the flat. Sherlock bowed and hauled John to his feet, grabbing his hands.

"No, John, this hand goes there. And this one goes there." Sherlock was leading, and laughing at him. Sherlock's hands were smooth and cool, with light calluses on the fingertips. John reflected that he might not stand on Sherlock's feet as much if he hadn't been drunk, and then corrected the thought. Being in contact with Sherlock was intoxicating of itself.

Fed up of the fudging the intricate steps, John grabbed both of Sherlock's hands and began to spin in circles. Sherlock's dressing gown was whirling out behind them.

"This is totally surreal!" John managed to gasp, through his breathlessness and giggles.

"So just an average day then," said Sherlock, ever so delightfully breathless.

"We'll wake Mrs Hudson."

"Sleeping pills before bed. We won't wake her up."

"Ouch!" There was a crash, as John twirled into the coffee table. "Ow. Bugger."

Immediately, Sherlock scooped John up and dumped him on the sofa. "Are you alright?"

"Yes. Ow. The table might not be, though."

"It's seen worse."

"Living in the same house as you, I don't doubt it."

Sherlock chuckled. John rubbed leg gingerly. "I guess that's put an end to active dares."

Sherlock handed him another drink. "Oh, don't worry. Still plenty of fun to be got out of this game."

"You're having fun, and nobody's dead. Now I know you're drunk."

*

"Truth or dare."

"Truth."

"Did you really want to be a pirate when you were little?"

Sherlock grumbled something about stupid Mycroft and the stupid law. "That was not an effective interrogative technique, John. You asked me something you were already informed of by a fairly reliable witness. And yes, as it happens. I did."

"For how long?" asked John, grinning.

"I fulfilled the terms of the game in answering the first question," said Sherlock defensively.

"Fine. But I'll get you yet."

*

"Truth or dare."

John rubbed his leg. Sherlock was being pleasant, and it was the middle of the night and they were drinking. Time to throw caution to the winds. "Oh, go on then. Truth."

Sherlock grinned triumphantly. "Firstly. Why do you bother dating all those women."

Crap. What now? John was finding it increasingly difficult to keep up his barrier. "I ... like them?"

"Truth, remember, John. You don't socialize with them for long enough beforehand to develop any sort of remarkable attachment. You might 'like them' well enough as acquaintances, but you inevitably seek to develop your relations with them into something more."

The flat was looking a little bit hazy, but John pulled himself up to look at least marginally affronted. "That's what people do, Shhh- Sherl'ck. They want romantic attachments so they try and create them."

"Hmmm. It's your turn."

*

"Truth 'r dare."

"Truth."

"How old were you when you stopped wanting to be a pirate?"

Sherlock gave John a sidelong glance. "Nineteen."

"Pttth." John spluttered into laughter, but quickly stopped. "Nineteen. Right. A very reasonable age. Excellent." Why did Sherlock have to be so adorable?

"Good question."

"Huh?" said John, confused, before realizing he'd spoken out loud. Was Sherlock listening? It wasn't John's fault if Sherlock would act all flouncy. Besides, he was adorable. Sometimes. Sometimes he was beautiful. All the time he was brilliant. It wasn't really fair for him to be so brilliant. It made it hard to be mad at him for being irritating. John thought that if he didn't love Sherlock, then he'd punch him for being so unfair. 'If I had to punch that face, I'd avoid the nose and teeth too,' commented Irene Adler in his head. Bother. John didn't like to think of her. Sherlock had liked her. And he, John, had had to pretend to not be jealous. Because that was best for Sherlock. And he'd always try and protect Sherlock. Also hug him. But he wasn't allowed to do that. Or the other things. Sherlock should not observe these feelings because then he'd send John away. Flatmate was good enough.

Blearily, John saw the light from Sherlock's phone, before the bobbly dark of the carpet seemed to swoop to hug his eyes. The tiny corner of sobriety complained that John hadn't been this drunk since his time in the army. The ocean of drunk-John ignored it.

Arms surrounded John, and then his blankets were being tugged inexpertly over him. He wanted to open his eyes, but that was too much work. He'd see in the morning.

*

“Gnuuuuh,” groaned John. His head felt as though some plague-carrying creature had crawled inside and decayed there. He tried moving, and the corpse’s ribs poked through its tattered flesh and straight into the inside of his skull, causing a wave of pain.

Actually, John decided, he didn't like that image very much. Time to focus on other things. Like not throwing up.

John cracked open an eye and was immediately assaulted by streamers of bright sunshine from his window. His alarm clock informed him that it was 9:21.

He flopped back into the softness of his pillow and closed his eyes again, trying to remember why he had woken up feeling like death. He and Sherlock had been drinking. He vaguely remembered dancing, and something to do with pirates. And lots and lots of thinking about Sherlock. Not that that was any different to usual. He’d better not have said anything embarrassing.

John frowned. There was something odd about the situation. Usually he was able to hold his alcohol. So why had he been so affected last night?

Thinking about it hurt, so he stopped. The door opened, and John opened his eyes to see Sherlock, bearing a tray of coffee, water and, oddly, cake.

“I went over to Mycroft’s and got some. I’m not much accustomed to dealing with hung-over flatmates, and there wasn't anything in the fridge except for ears,” Sherlock said by way of explanation.

John risked a smile, which morphed into a grimace. “Thanks.” Pushing himself upright, he settled the heavy tray on his lap and sniffed at the coffee. “How come you’re fine?”

“I told you, John. I don’t get drunk.” Sherlock was hovering at the end of John’s bed, clearly uncertain as to whether or not to leave.
John sighed. “Sit down?”

There was a creaking of springs as Sherlock lowered himself onto the bed. “How are you feeling?” he asked tentatively.

John frowned. Sherlock was acting edgy and polite. Both abnormal states for him. “Alright. Should I not be?”

“No, no, it’s all fine!” said Sherlock airily.

“Hmm,” said John suspiciously. He looked at the cake, which had pink icing, and decided not to risk it- knowing Mycroft, there were probably state secrets baked into it. Or poison.

John glanced at Sherlock, who was still being oddly quiet. “Um. So, what actually happened last night?” John asked.

“Actually, I-” Sherlock cleared his throat. “I documented the whole evening. Here.” Sherlock deposited his phone on the bed and stood up, grabbing John’s empty coffee mug and beating a hasty retreat. John winced. Maybe he’d done something really awful and Sherlock was offended?

Sherlock’s phone was a comforting weight in his hand. After turning down the screen brightness, John could see a screen full of notes, similar to the files in which Sherlock kept any data he didn't want to trust to his mind palace.

Experiment: Obtain confirmation of John’s feelings; ascertain extent of said sentiment

Have noticed several distinct signs of unusual amount of emotional attachment on John’s part.

1. John paying unusual amount of attention- purchase of milk and groceries, making tea, requesting that I eat, checking I have gone to bed, cooperating with Mycroft to check my smoking habits.

2. Certain tone of voice when speaking to me on occasion- similar to that of Molly when she speaks about kittens. Note: kittens obviously Molly’s favorite animal. Tone of voice seems to manifest itself after situations of risk or when I have been provoking John- eg following my blowing up the flat, when treating the cut on my head. (Note: document the explosive experiment as not a complete failure)

a. Data received from Molly on subject of kittens- “adorable”, “cute”, “make you want to hug them”, “independent”, “do silly things”, “can scratch”. More data needed. Side experiment: does John like kittens?

b. Data received. John likes kittens. Ventured opinion that John is like a puppy. He laughed at me. No conclusion drawn as of yet.

3. Allowing me to ruin his dates. Note: John still believes that I cannot tell his girlfriends apart. Got rid of latest one by sitting at neighboring table in café and wearing purple shirt, pretending not to notice John. Girlfriend left due to John being obviously uninterested in her due to staring at me. Was only shouted at for five minutes.

4. Physical signs (elevated pulse, pupil dilation, et cetera).

5. Placing high importance on things I say. Test: complimented one of John’s jumpers. Frequency of him wearing that particular jumper increased from average of once every two weeks to four times every two weeks.

Require confirmation. People generally more loquacious when under the influence of alcohol. Arrange for alcohol in flat.

N.B. John used to alcohol. Chemical compound to reduce restraint and make more talkative found. Inserted into bottle.

Culmination of big case expected to be tomorrow. Have prevented John from socialization or attending pub for ten days to create a desire to socialize. Present home alternative- need controllable environment.

Note: Is drugging John a bit not good?

Sentimental scruples overlooked for sake of data.

Following beginning drinking, signs of restraint in behaviour towards me clearly visible.

Clearly interested in my reference to homosexual relationship found in TV series. Positive physical response to description of relationship similar to ours as being romantic.

Exhibiting positive signs to close physical contact.

Side note: alcohol rather pleasant to drink with John. Add to list of things which John’s company improves.

Positive response to dancing. Appears to appreciate romantic gesture of waltz for a short time. Replaced by spinning. Evidently exhilaration similar to being on case with me produces positive sentiment.

Side note: Potential effect of alcohol on myself- enjoying opportunity for close physical contact with John. Remember to analyse John to discern potential chemical makeup of pleasant scent specific to John. Heightened sense of fear and concern- John’s injured leg cause for inadvertent feeling of worry.

Suggested truth or dare. John appears to have a focus on elements of my past.

Drug active. John speaking out loud. Frequent references to myself as e.g. “adorable”- note: does John view me as a kitten?-, “brilliant”, “beautiful”. Ramblings expressing distinct jealousy towards The Woman- more distinctly, the potential that I might have feelings for her. Ludicrous. Reminder- play violin song composed for her less often to reduce unhealthy sentiment in John.

John’s speech becoming increasingly incoherent. References to desire for intimate physical contact. Interesting to note that expression of John’s desire to “cuddle” me results in reciprocal feelings rather than aversion or disdain.

Put John to bed. Note: effect of alcohol on myself- increased tenderness?

Photo saved of John curled up sleeping purely for own sentimental interest.

Experiment concluded- John clearly feels a great deal of physical and emotional attachment towards both my character and physicality. Simply put, John is in love with me.

Need to ponder own response to this. Possibility of reciprocal feelings? Difficult to analyse self. May have to ask Mycroft.

What the hell?

Sherlock had been experimenting on him. Sherlock knew how he felt. And “possibility of reciprocal feelings”? What was that about? At the moment, John didn’t care. He needed to get out of the house before he punched Sherlock.

The flat was put to rights from last night. Several bottles stood by the sink. The TV was still on, the little logo bouncing around the screen- either Sherlock couldn’t be bothered to turn it off, or he didn’t know how. The detective was sitting on the frayed sofa, tapping at John’s laptop, his long legs stretched under the coffee table.

“John.” Sherlock’s voice was calm and collected, no trace of the anxiety from earlier.

John glanced at Sherlock. “Sherlock,” he acknowledged, making his voice as blunt as he could. His keys jingled as he unhooked them from the lacquered peg.

“John, why are you going- ahhh. You’re angry with me?”

“Mmm.” All John wanted was to get out of the flat before he started shouting. Or crying.

“Because I drugged you?” asked Sherlock calmly. John recognized the tone. It was the tone which Sherlock used to Moriarty. The one to hide the vulnerability that nobody knew was there. Nobody but John.

“Because- yes, Sherlock. Because you drugged me and you experimented on me. Jesus, Sherlock! You could have just ASKED me!” John’s voice was getting louder.

“You wouldn’t have told me,” said Sherlock noncommittally.

“Then maybe that would have told you that I DIDN’T WANT YOU TO KNOW!” shouted John.

“I’d noticed anyway. I just wanted confirmation.”

“WHY? To appeal to your egotism? It’s not enough to have the whole world thinking you’re brilliant and your flatmate adoring you, you also have to have absolute proof of how amazing everyone thinks you are?!”

There was a pause, in which John was pleased to see Sherlock looking slightly disconcerted. John turned to go.

“I brought you these,” muttered Sherlock.

“What-” snapped John, turning around impatiently. The words died in his throat. Sherlock was holding out a vast bunch of roses, yellow and pink ones.

“It was Mycroft’s idea,” Sherlock muttered embarrassedly. “Along with the cake. It was in the shape of a heart- well, obviously not an anatomically correct heart, one of those things that people accept as a symbol for romantic interest. He said that a gesture of sentiment would be an efficient way of making my intentions known.”

John stared at Sherlock, utterly bemused. “Your intentions?”

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Only for you would I spell out something this obvious, John. I had observed evidence of romantic feelings on your behalf towards me, which I confirmed last night. I have been experiencing similar feelings. So I visited Mycroft.”

“You voluntarily went to see your brother?”

“It’s wise to consult an expert, John. Mycroft has been in a secret relationship with Lestrade for six months now.”

“What?!”

“Not hard to deduce. So I asked him for romantic advice. The flowers and cake were his idea.”

“You asked your brother for romantic advice?” said John incredulously.

“Shut up, John.”

John fought down the hope constricting his throat. “So, um, the conclusion of this experiment is…?”

“I thought you were accustomed to this kind of thing,” said Sherlock exasperatedly. “You-love-me-I-love-you-will-you-be-my-boyfriend?”

“I-” John could hardly believe it. He realized that he was beaming crazily at Sherlock, and quickly straightened his face, putting on a casual tone. “Ahem. Yes, alright. I think I will. Yes.” It was no good- the smile was back.

“Finally,” growled Sherlock, launching himself at John and attacking- there was no other word for it- his mouth. Sherlock’s lips were hot and soft and everywhere; John’s hands tangled in Sherlock’s dark curls, and he staggered backwards, attempting to control the fireworks which were going off in his brain. Eventually, Sherlock pulled away, breathing heavily.

John tried speaking, and let out an unintelligible squeak. He cleared his throat. “Where did you learn to do that?”

Sherlock grinned and adjusted his collar. “It’s a relatively simple procedure of manipulating chemical reactions.”

John’s phone bleeped, and he extracted it from his pocket. “It’s from Mycroft,” he informed Sherlock. “He says it’s about time, and that Lestrade has a case for you.”

“Tell him we’re busy,” said Sherlock.

John’s facial muscles were seizing up from constantly smiling. “He’s not going to believe you.”

“He should really,” Sherlock said. “It’s his fault we have so much cake to eat.”

John put his phone away and reached for Sherlock’s hand. “One thing,” he said sternly, pulling his detective onto the sofa. “I’m never getting drunk with you ever again.”