"Christ, Sherlock. Just put some clothes on. We were supposed to be there 5 minutes ago."
"Ughhhhh. Fine. But I'm not going to have fun," Sherlock moans while peeling himself off of the sofa.
"Duly noted, but we do have to pretend to like our friends on occasion. It seems only fair for all the shit they put up with from you."
"Didn't we just socialize with them last week or something?" Sherlock responds while walking toward his bedroom.
"That was ten months ago, Sherlock. Christmas, remember?"
Sherlock waves his hand in the air to suggest that there couldn't be anything less consequential in all of existence.
It's a nice October evening in London - 13 degrees and slightly overcast - so John and Sherlock decide to walk the seven blocks to the Queen & Bishop. They walk comfortably side by side and even though Sherlock isn't excited about spending time with the imbeciles from New Scotland Yard, he has to admit that he is looking forward to seeing John relax and smile. It's been awhile since John seemed really relaxed, Sherlock thinks. Probably because they haven't had a case on in awhile and Sherlock has been extra mopey as of late. Justifiably mopey, Sherlock counters to himself.
The Queen & Bishop is a dingy pub near Regent’s Park that’s popular with Lestrade’s colleagues from NSY. It’s dark and stale-smelling inside, but is thankfully void of tellys plastered on every wall. The only thing worse than a night out with idiots is a night out with idiots and football matches blaring, Sherlock thinks.
As Sherlock and John step inside, Lestrade waves them over to a booth towards the back. John heads over to join Lestrade and the others while Sherlock makes his way to the bar to get drinks - a pint of beer for John and a glass of pinot noir for himself. Sherlock is certain that the wine selection will be terrible in a place like this, but he is pleasantly surprised by the bottles they have available. He gives the bartender John’s card (it was John’s idea to come out tonight, so surely he should be responsible for paying) and walks to the table. He slides into the booth next to John and spends the next twenty minutes trying to ignore the impossibly boring conversation taking place around him. Surely twenty minutes, plus the time spent walking here and the time in queue at the bar should be enough to make John happy. Maybe they can go back to Baker Street and order in. Sherlock leans towards John to tell him that it’s time to leave, but he looks engrossed in the conversation and Sherlock worries that John might get angry if he interrupts. He decides to text him instead.
John reaches for his phone as soon as it buzzes in his pocket.
Sherlock, you’re sitting right next to me. You can just talk, you know.
Christ, Sherlock. Just join the conversation, yeah? Have a beer?
“Sorry, are we not exciting enough for you?” Lestrade asks John with a hint of a smirk.
“No, no. Sorry.” John says distractedly. John slips his phone into pocket without looking at Sherlock and rejoins the conversation.
“...That’s just it, though. If you’re interested in someone, if you think you might love someone even, you have to tell them. Otherwise you’ll never know for sure how they feel about you,” Molly explains.
“I don’t know,” Donovan argues. “Rejection is a powerful thing. Yeah, they might like you back, but what if they don’t?”
“Yeah, I have to agree with Sally - rejection is scary. Sometimes it’s best just to keep your feelings to yourself,” Lestrade interjects.
Sherlock has no idea why he starts paying attention to the conversation just because John told him to, but maybe they’ll start talking about murder or something more interesting soon. Probably not, though.
John takes a sip of his pint and leans over to Lestrade. “Why are we talking about crushes? Does Sally like someone? Isn’t she involved with Anderson?”
“Ugh, yeah, she used to be. Word on the street is that she’s in love. Probably with Anderson. She said something about being afraid of making a mess of a professional relationship. Sex is sex I guess, but love is something else.”
“And why do we care? Is this a counseling session?”
“Ha. Might as well be,” Lestrade retorts.
Sherlock thinks maybe John forgot about him, so he decides to send him another text.
Boooooored. So bored. -SH
Deal with it, you git. We’re staying for a least another round.
John hits send, glares at Sherlock, and puts his phone away.
“...But what if you miss your chance at true love!” Molly practically shouts, causing John and Sherlock to turn their attention back to the rest of the table. “I mean it, Sally. There isn’t anything more important than love. It’s worth the risk.”
Sally shrugs and takes a sip of her beer, effectively ending the conversation.
“I’m going to get another beer,” John announces after a moment of silence. “Anyone need anything?”
More beer seems to be the only request, so John makes his way to the bar.
“So, Sherlock…” Sally starts. “What about you? Ever been in love?”
Sherlock could not be more in love with John Watson. He loves every single thing about him. He loves the way he wiggles his toes when sitting in front of the fire, he loves that he takes bubble baths after stressful days at the surgery, and he loves that of all the people he could spend time with in this world, John chooses Sherlock. But if Sherlock was ever going to admit his love for John, it would not be in front of NSY nor at the bloody Queen & Bishop.
“Sorry we can’t all have a love life as thoroughly exciting as yours, Sally. I can only imagine how considerate a lover Anderson is,” Sherlock replies.
Donovan scoffs but says nothing in response. Thankfully John returns at this point with a pitcher of beer and a glass of wine for Sherlock. Another minute of socializing between Sally and Sherlock would have undoubtedly resulted in Lestrade having to handcuff someone and that would have been a bit not good.
“I’ve had an idea,” John says as Sherlock stands to let him in the booth.
“We get to go home and never enter this pub ever again?” Sherlock responds hopefully.
“No. As I am apparently buying all the drinks tonight and I have every intention of drinking loads more beer, I’ve created a game for you to play.”
“What kind of game?” Sherlock doesn’t want to admit it, but he’s genuinely intrigued.
“Your inbox is bursting with cases. Solve enough of them to cover my tab by the end of the night and you win.”
Sherlock can tell that John fully expects him to stand up, roll his eyes, and walk out of the pub after the explanation of the game. But John seems to really want Sherlock here with him.
“Alright?” John asks.
“Yes. Alright. I’ll do it. I’ll play your stupid little game.”
John seems thoroughly taken aback by Sherlock’s willingness to do anything but tries to hide his surprise. He instead nods to Sherlock and turns his attention back to the rest of the table as Sherlock’s fingers start flying over his mobile.
The conversation slowly shifts back to Molly’s love life. Or maybe Anderson’s. Sherlock has stopped listening completely. After a couple of minutes of looking through his inbox, Sherlock is interrupted by Molly shouting.
“Let’s play a game!”
“What kind of game, Molly?” Lestrade asks.
“Hmmm. How about this game that I used to play at uni. We called it Guess Who. It’s like the children’s game, but instead of guessing which character you are, we try to guess who everyone likes. It’s kind of silly, but simple. We take turns and say things like, ‘The person I like has brown hair.’ Then everyone who likes someone with brown hair takes a sip of their drink. The statement doesn’t have to be true for the person asking, but they have to drink if it’s true for them. Like if Greg said, ‘The person I like has blonde hair’ but the person he likes has red hair, then he doesn’t drink. If the person he likes has blonde hair, though, he has to drink.”
“That makes sense,” Lestrade says. “But Sherlock can’t play or the game will be over before it starts.”
“Fair point,” Molly agrees. “Also, the game ends when everyone except one person is out. If someone correctly guesses who you like, you are out. If they guess incorrectly, they are out. It’s probably easier at uni where everyone knows everyone else, but it still might be fun.”
“Yeah...fun…” Sherlock snorts.
“Ignore him,” John says. “It sounds like fun, Molly. Let’s play.”
“I’ll start,” Anderson says. “The person I like has curly hair.”
It’s obviously Sally, Sherlock thinks. Ugh, if they would just let him guess then the game could be over already and he and John could go home. Sally likes Anderson, Anderson likes Sally, Lestrade probably likes someone from work, and everyone knows Molly likes Sherlock for some reason. Boring. Predictable. The only thing not boring is John. But John probably likes some perfectly normal woman with slightly larger-than-normal breasts, and a boring job. Sherlock doesn’t want to spend the entire night hearing about who John fancies. Maybe another text will encourage him to leave.
We can order in. I’ll even pay. -SH
John doesn’t look at his phone. He seems to be processing Anderson’s statement. Interesting, Sherlock thinks. Maybe he’s deciding between two different women. Looking around the table, Sherlock sees Molly take a small sip of her beer and then he realizes that John is lifting his pint off the table. He’s certain that it’s just his mind playing tricks on him, but Sherlock thinks John slides a little closer as he raises his glass.