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2/13/93

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Friday, February 12th, 1993

"Come on John, come to Mike's party with Clara and me Saturday night. You're bound to find someone to hook up with there," Harry Watson pleaded with her twin brother, John as they were making dinner in their kitchen.

"I don't want to hook up with anyone Harry. I'm happy being free and single, especially after that disaster with Mary last summer." John had caught his girlfriend of five months, Mary Morstan, kissing Sebastian Moran, one of his rugby teammates, at a party, and promptly broke up with her. He'd been unattached ever since, despite plenty of date offers from both girls and guys at his school. One boy in particular, a muscular blond named James Sholto, had been desperately pursuing John since school started in September, and John had always rejected him. It wasn't that John was homophobic---he was bisexual---but he just didn't have a desire for a relationship right now. His grades were great, he was enjoying playing on the school rugby team, he had a part-time job as a cashier at Speedy's, and he had lots of friends. Life was good. A girlfriend or boyfriend would only drag him down.

John chopped up a cucumber for a salad and continued, "Besides, you and Clara are going to abandon me anyway to go make out in some corner. It'll be nothing but booze and sweaty bodies humping all over the place---count me out. I'm going to the "Love Stinks" marathon at the cinema anyway." The local movie theater was cashing in on Valentine's Day and playing to singles by showing non-romantic films all night, with the main attraction being the horror movie My Bloody Valentine. John was more than happy to sit in a dark theater, munch on popcorn, sip sodas, and get lost in a myriad of horror and action films.

Harry rolled her eyes. "You're such a romantic John," she retorted sarcastically. "How about you compromise. Come with Clara and me to the party for a couple of hours, and then you can go to the cinema afterwards. Okay?" She batted her blue eyes at her twin.

John laughed. "Okay, you win this time Harriet Grace Watson. I'll come, but only for two hours, and then I'm out."

Harry pecked John on the cheek. "Thank you John Hamish Watson." 

*****

Saturday

John stood in front of the mirror in his bedroom, humming along to Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" while getting ready for the party. He decided to wear a pair of blue jeans and a white T-shirt with the Union Jack flag on the front underneath an open long-sleeved red button down shirt, with white trainers. He wasn't looking to impress anyone, he wanted to be comfortable, but he didn't want to look like a bum. He combed his short blond hair, running a bit of gel through it, spiking it up, and smirked when the light caught the sparkle of the diamond stud sitting in his left earlobe.

Harry had convinced John to get his ear pierced last month while the two were out shopping. Harry had four piercings in each ear, a stud in her nose, and an eyebrow piercing. Despite being twins, the two had totally different styles. Harry preferred the alternative style that was all the rage, with plaid shirts, Doc Martens, black eyeliner and lipstick, and tons of piercings. She had even dyed her golden tresses black, which did not sit well with their parents at first, but because she had pulled her grades up and was staying out of trouble, they relented. 

John on the other hand, was a no-fussy, if it's clean and looks presentable, I'm fine person. He got teased for his love of jumpers, but he didn't care, considering most of the time he was in a tight-fitting rugby uniform that would always be covered in mud, grime, and sweat. And while he liked alternative rock music, he didn't want to dress like he was in the band. He'd always figured he'd look ridiculous. But he liked his piercing, and when he came to school after getting it done, almost everybody noticed. James had even tried to lick his earlobe! That little stunt got him an elbow in the ribs.

Satisfied with his appearance, John grabbed his black shooting jacket (a gift from his mother) and left the room. 

The Watsons lived in a roomy, comfortable flat above Angelo's Restaurant. Angelo had given it to them rent free after John's dad stopped a robber from making off with all his money, and thanks to that good deed John's dad ended up with a bullet to his shoulder and only being able to do part-time work as a courier. Not having a hefty rent payment obviously helped the family.

John met his sister and her girlfriend, Clara Winston in the living room. Both were in their usual goth attire, although Harry was in a black miniskirt, fishnet tights, and her Doc Martens, paired with a black T-shirt with a bleeding heart graphic on the front. Clara wore a tight red minidress, black tights, and Doc Martens with red shoelaces. Clara was a pretty girl with natural red hair she had cut into a bob, with the nape shaved off.

"John, you look totally sexy. If I were straight, I'd be hanging all over you," Clara breathed in appreciation.

He chuckled. "Thanks, I think. So are you two ready?"

"Yeah, let's roll!" Harry said, excited. She narrowed her sapphire orbs at her brother. "Remember you promised to stay two hours."

John sighed. "Yeah, yeah, I promise! Let's go! The sooner we get there, the sooner I can anticipate leaving."

*****

Mike Stamford's house was an old, rambling farmhouse in the country, about twenty-five minutes away from London. John had been there before plenty of times since he and Mike were good friends. It was also where John found Mary cheating on him with Sebastian, but that was water under the bridge and he pushed the memory out of his mind.

John was driving his old blue pickup truck, following his sister and Clara in Clara's little Audi. As they made their way up the winding driveway, he could see plenty of cars parked on the front lawn. He chose a spot close to the road so when his two hours were up, he could make a quick getaway. Clara drove on closer to the house.

John got out and headed for the house, inhaling the cool, crisp country air. It was so different from London. Although he loved living in the city and he couldn't imagine being anywhere else, sometimes the fog and the smog and the crowds could be a bit too much. But the isolation of the countryside made him a bit uneasy.

Harry and Clara were already inside as John stepped up onto the porch. He could sense someone off to the side and glanced to his left. A lone figure stood leaning against a wood column, smoking a cigarette. He was six-feet tall, with jet-black hair, bangs hanging down past his forehead, barely touching his eyebrows. He was dressed in all black - fitted black button down shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, impossibly tight black jeans with a silver chain belt wrapped around the waist, and black motorcycle boots. He had catlike eyes, a prominent nose, full pink lips, and cheekbones so sharp John wondered if he'd get a paper cut if he touched them. For some unknown reason, John smiled at him, and then began to open the door. As he did so, the stranger winked at him before blowing a long trail of white smoke into the night air. John could feel his chest tighten, and warm tingles spreading into his stomach. But he shook it off as he entered his friend's house, mind going back to "two hours and done."

*****

 The music was loud and pumping as John made his way to Mike Stamford. Mike had an arm around his girlfriend Molly Hooper, another friend of John's and his chemistry class partner.  "Hey Mike, Molly!" John shouted to them over the noise.

"John you came!" Molly exclaimed, going to hug him. 

He hugged her back. "Yeah but I'm only staying for a couple of hours."

Mike clapped John on the back. "Well you'd better get to partying then. Want a beer?"

John shook his head. "Don't wanna get drunk tonight, I'm driving to the cinema after this and then home. Where's the soda?"

"I'll get you a Coke, be right back." Mike swished through the crowd towards the kitchen, and Molly turned back to John. "James has been asking about you."

John groaned. "He's here? I was hoping to avoid him. I keep telling him I don't want to be his boyfriend. Why can't he take the hint?"

"Because you're just too good looking John! I mean, look at you! You're gorgeous! Half the school would give their right arm to date you."

"Yeah? Well I wish they'd want to keep their arms," John joked.

Molly laughed. "Makes me glad I have a steady boyfriend."

John nodded. "Mike's a great guy."

Just then, Mike appeared with a red cup and handed it John. "One Coke." 

"Thanks." John took a sip then looked at his friends. "Well, I don't want to be a third wheel, so I'm going to walk around and see what's happening. Talk to you later."

Molly and Mike began kissing, and John shook his head. "Well that was fast." He began weaving through the room, trying to spot some more familiar faces. Eventually, he saw Greg Lestrade, one of his rugby teammates, sitting at table with an arm around Sarah Sawyer. Next to him were Sally Donovan and her boyfriend Philip Anderson. "Hi guys," John greeted.

"John! Nice to see you buddy! I didn't think you were coming!" Greg said. He motioned to an empty chair next to Sally. "Have a seat."

"Thanks." John sat and put his cup on the table. "Everyone having fun?"

Sally snorted. "It's kind of boring. But it beats staying home on a Saturday night." Philip nodded in agreement. "It was either this or board games with my parents."

Sally leaned into John. "Have you met the freak yet?"

"The freak? Take your pick, there's plenty around here," John joshed.

Sally playfully punched his arm. "Funny John. But no, there's this guy from uni here. He's dressed all in black and he doesn't say anything, just stares at you."

An image of the gorgeous stranger outside smoking who winked at John quickly flashed in his mind. "I think I've met him. He was on the porch when I arrived. He was smoking, and he winked at me. Really dark hair, tall, good looking in an odd way?"

"That's him," Sally replied. 

"Why would a uni student come to a high school Valentine's party?" John wondered. 

"He was with Victor Trevor," Sarah said.

"Well that explains it then," John dryly remarked. Victor Trevor was a twenty year-old who was friends with Mike's older brother Todd. Victor had a reputation for chasing after teenage guys, and John had seen him cruising the school parking lot. Victor never made advances to John; his preference was skinny dark-haired boys, like the stranger who winked at John.

John picked up his cup again and took a drink. The chatter had died down and the two couples sitting with him were starting to get cozy, so John smiled, stood up and left. As he began walking through the house again, he realized he was the only one by himself. Everyone else was paired off in couples or small groups. He suddenly felt like a tiny goldfish in a bowl full of sharks. 

He glanced down at his watch. It was eight o'clock, and he'd only been here forty-five minutes. He sighed deeply. It was going to be a long evening. 

"Hey babe," a voice whispered from behind. John froze up with dread. It was James. The last person he wanted to see. 

Steeling himself, John turned around. "Hello," he said, forcing to be casual.

James eyed him up and down and John felt like he was being appraised at an auction house. "Damn, you look hot tonight. You're turning me on even more than you do during school."

John rolled his eyes. "How many times to I have to tell you James, I'm not interested? Why do you keep going after me when you know I'm not going to give in?"

"I'm a very determined man," James silkily replied.

John snorted. "Yeah, I can see that."

"Come on John. We'd be good for each other. Stop being so stubborn," James persisted, moving closer.

But John was steadfast. "No," he insisted, blue eyes flashing in annoyance.

The two stared at each other for a few seconds. Then James exhaled a breath in a huff. "Fine. Be lonely. You'll regret it." He stalked off. John watched him leave, and licked his lips nervously. But he was glad James finally took the hint. Now maybe he'd be alone. Alone was good. Alone protected him.

*****

John managed to almost make it the two hours. At five of ten, he'd had enough. He hadn't seen Harry or Clara all evening---and then they managed to show up as he was heading out the door. 

"I kept my promise, I'm heading to the cinema. Enjoy the rest of the night." 

"Good job brother," Harry praised. "I'm proud of you."

"Me too," Clara added.

"I'll see you girls later." He flashed them a big grin. "I'm free!" he nearly yelled, extremely relieved.

He was out on the porch, taking a deep breath and letting the cool February night wash over him like a gentle rain. Now he could do what he really wanted to do tonight.

He stepped off the porch, and standing there was the black clad stranger. He was smoking another cigarette. He narrowed his eyes at John. "Leaving so soon?"

John almost fell to the ground at hearing that voice. It was a low baritone, smooth and posh. It reminded him of the finest, most expensive dark chocolate. Decadent and forbidden. John internally composed himself before answering.

"Yeah. I really didn't want to come tonight, but I promised my sister and her girlfriend I'd show up for two hours."

The stranger chuckled. "So now where are you off to?"

"Hudson Theatre. They're showing a marathon of action and horror movies. It's an anti-Valentine's Day thing." 

"So I take it you're not into the holiday? I'm not either, it's all a scam to rob people of their hard-earned money on useless gifts and expensive dinners."

"Well, I'm not as hardcore as that, but it's just another day to me."

The stranger nodded and took a drag off his cigarette. John couldn't help but stare at those perfect full lips and wondered for just a second what it would be like to kiss them.

The stranger blew out a perfect ring of smoke and smirked. "Like what you see?"

John turned beet red. "Uh, I'm sorry, it's just that, well, I've never seen anyone that looks like you."

"That's because I'm not like anyone else." He grinned at John. "Sherlock Holmes."

"John Watson." He cocked his head to the side. "That's a unique name."

"I'm a unique person." He winked again at John.

"I'm sure you are." John winked back. Good Lord, he couldn't believe it. He was flirting with a perfect stranger, after promising himself so many times he didn't want to be involved with someone. But there was something alluring about this beautiful man that called himself Sherlock. Beautiful and dangerous. 

"Can I be bold and ask you something?" John said.

"Of course. I like bold," Sherlock replied huskily.

"One of the guests said you're at uni. Why would you come to a high school Valentine's party, of all places? Surely something like this would bore you silly."

Sherlock took another puff of his cigarette. "Normally I would be bored, but my friend Victor wanted to come. He has his eye on this guy, Billy Wiggins. I tagged along because I thought I might get some fun deducing the guests."

"Deducing?" John's eyes showed confusion.

"Yes. You see John, I do more than see. I observe. I can look at someone and in a matter of seconds, I know everything about them. Victor calls it a magic trick, but it's not."

"Hmm, sounds interesting. What can you tell about me?"

Sherlock gave him a wolfish smile. He'd been wanting to do this all night ever since he laid eyes on the teen. "You come from a military background---I'd say your father was in the army. Your haircut also says military, and you have aspirations of enlisting. You play a sport, judging from your height, soccer or rugby, no it's rugby, because you have callouses on your fingers. The pierced earring suggests you like flirting with the wild side, but at the same time, you don't want to be perceived as rebellious, because you get good grades in school and are popular. Your sister is the rebel, and she talked you into getting it done. You have a lot of disagreements, but you genuinely love each other." He stopped, gazing intensely at John.

The blond teen was gobsmacked. How could this guy know all of that, just by looking at him and talking to him for less than five minutes? "Wow," he breathed. And then "amazing!"

 Sherlock moved in even closer. "You think so?"

"Yeah, that was bloody brilliant." John smiled up at him.

The two stood there for a moment just gazing at each other. The warmth John felt when he first saw Sherlock was back, this time even more intense than before. No, he thought to himself. This can't be attraction. You don't want this. You want to be by yourself.

"Stop thinking," Sherlock said.

"What?"

"Stop thinking, it's annoying."

John was confused. "I didn't even say anything!"

"You were thinking out loud, it's distracting."

"Oh." John was still confused, and his eyebrows furrowed.

Suddenly Sherlock leaned down and brushed his lips over John's. The sensation sent a shiver of pleasure all through his body. He gazed up into those catlike eyes, accentuated by black eyeliner, and he saw a combination of blue, green and gray. It reminded him of a stormy sky out at sea. "Your eyes are beautiful," he murmured.

"So are yours. They're the deepest shade of blue I've ever seen," Sherlock said, equally enraptured. He leaned down and pressed his lips to John's again. When he broke away, John reached up and softly stroked a cheekbone with his left finger. "Sorry, I just needed to feel what they were like."

Sherlock chuckled. "It's okay. Hey, if you don't leave you'll miss your anti-Valentine's movies."

John was so caught up in being with Sherlock he forgot all about the cinema. "Would you like to come with me?" he asked the taller boy.

Sherlock wrinkled up his nose. John thought it was adorable. He looked just like a cat that was displeased with something. "Movies aren't really my thing."

"Oh." John looked down at the ground, dejected.

"But I'll make an exception for you," Sherlock took two fingers and lifted John's chin to meet his penetrating gaze. "There's something about you that's very extraordinary, and I'd like to get to know you better."

John's heart soared with the praise. "So would I."  He held out his hand to Sherlock. "My truck is down by the road."

Sherlock took his hand, and the two were walking together into the winter night, each thinking how February 13th, 1993 was going to be one of the best days of their lives.