Author's Note: I read the prompt for this and meant to turn it into a happy, fun, lighthearted fic, which I imagine the prompter had in mind. It didn't quite turn out that way. Sorry (not sorry).
A million thanks to Becca (Ao3's LlamaWithAPen) for fixing up my typos and making me laugh with her comments.
Prompt from Guest user "Person": How about one where they're at a party and are dragged into games together?
Never Have I Ever (met someone like you)
Typically, this sort of thing was not Sherlock's scene.
To say that Sherlock wasn't a particularly social individual was a gross understatement. Sherlock did not get on well with people. He found that interacting with people was a draining experience, because other people's minds did not work anywhere near as fast as his own, and he was constantly frustrated by the need to slow down and explain things whenever he spoke. Added to this was the fact that Sherlock was not tactful at the best of times, and that made him a lot less likeable to anyone else. People did not like feeling like idiots, even though they were, and so, people did not like spending time with Sherlock. Other people avoided Sherlock, and Sherlock avoided other people.
So, this scene – a house party, with loud music and a large number of students who had had too much to drink – was not a scene that Sherlock found himself in very often.
Unfortunately, at this point, Sherlock had nowhere else to go. He could not go home, certainly not tonight, perhaps not ever. He could not face his furious father, or his tearful mother, and he could not listen to Mycroft telling him once again that he was nothing more than a stupid boy who did not understand anything of importance and should have kept his mouth shut. Sherlock did not want to go back there again. Sherlock did not want to see them.
He had left the house with no clear destination in mind, beyond finding somewhere relatively sheltered to stay the night. He knew that the university often failed to lock their labs (or, more correctly, failed to lock them with anything that was not easily picked), and sometimes even the libraries stayed open late. If he could find an open building, he could take shelter there, away from the cool London air. After tonight, he was not sure where he would go, but that was a bridge he could cross when the morning sun shed light on the world.
It was Victor Trevor who had found him, wandering the campus grounds long after most people had gone home. Victor was one of the few people who Sherlock actually got along with, at least in a relative sense. Victor was not as clever as Sherlock, but he was not an idiot either – the fact that Victor was doing a number of extension classes was proof of that. Additionally, Victor did not take offence in absolutely everything Sherlock said. It was quite refreshing.
Sherlock had not told him the whole story, of course. He did not want to discuss the details with anyone, even with someone whose company he did enjoy. Yet, he mentioned that he did not want to go home for the night, and Victor had told him to come back to his place instead. Victor's parents were out for the weekend, and Sherlock was welcome to crash there for as long as he needed. The only thing that Sherlock needed to be aware of was that Victor was hosting a party with "a few friends", but Victor assured him that that party would not run too late into the night.
This was a mistake, if not an outright lie. Victor's "few friends" ended up being more than a few friends, who had brought with them more than a few friends of friends, and in short, Victor's entire house was filled with people. There was not a single room in the building where Sherlock could go to be alone. He knew this for sure, because he checked every room in search of somewhere quiet, and he was utterly unsuccessful. The two bathrooms were occupied by girls touching up their make-up, and all of the bedrooms were occupied by couples taking advantage of the relative privacy. Sherlock promptly deleted the memories of said couples from his Mind Palace after closing the door.
This left Sherlock in the living room, standing by the wall, watching as people became progressively more drunk. Someone had thrust a drink of some form into Sherlock's hand several minutes ago, and he sipped it absently. Normally, Sherlock would steer clear of alcohol. He did not want to impede his thought process; he valued his mind too much. This time, however, just this once, he did not think it was a bad idea to stop thinking for a little while.
Unfortunately, as much as Sherlock would have been content to remain there in the shadows, watching the party without having to engage in major social interaction with any of the people there, he did not remain invisible for long.
"Sherlock!" yelled a familiar, slightly slurred voice. "Sherlock! Shirley!"
Sherlock squeezed his eyes shut tight, wishing that the childish notion of 'If I can't see you, you can't see me' had some truth to it. While Sebastian Wilkes was one of the people that Sherlock interacted with more frequently, Sherlock would definitely not call them friends. Their usual interactions consisted of Sherlock making deductions and Sebastian pointing out that his deductions were the reason Sherlock had no friends. As far as Sherlock was concerned, if people did not want everyone to know who they had been sleeping with the night before, they should not make it so glaringly obvious.
Sebastian stumbled over, putting one hand on the wall by Sherlock's shoulder to steady himself. "Shirley! There you are," he said, followed by a giggle, as though the variation of Sherlock's name was hysterically funny.
"Sherlock," Sherlock corrected.
Sebastian took no notice. "Victor said you were here. Not like you to come to parties. Thought you thought you were better than that."
"That's not precisely my reasoning."
Sebastian continued as though Sherlock hadn't spoken. "Maybe you're finally coming out of your shell. Coming along to play with the big boys now."
Sherlock rolled his eyes, and did not bother gracing the statement with a verbal response, if Sebastian was apparently not paying attention to anything Sherlock said.
However, Sebastian did notice the lack of response, even though he didn't notice the reason for it. "Aw, don't worry," he said, his voice equal parts condescending and teasing. "You just need to loosen up a little. Have another drink." He held up his own cup, as though prepared to pour its contents down Sherlock's throat should Sherlock refuse.
A hand clapped down on Sebastian's shoulder, and Victor came into view behind him. "All right, boys?" he asked.
Sebastian grinned, as though he did not even consider the possibility that there was something inappropriate about his behaviour. "Absolutely," he said. "Just telling Sher here," – ("Sherlock," Sherlock corrected under his breath)—"that he needs another drink to loosen up a bit."
"You know what, I'm sure that's a fine idea," Victor said calmly. "Why don't you go get another drink?"
"Sure," said Sebastian without argument (Sherlock filed away the words 'obedient when drunk' into Sebastian's folder in his Mind Palace), stepping past Victor and manoeuvring himself through the crowd to the drinks table. The moment he was out of the way, Victor stepped close so that he could be heard over the loud music.
"All right?" he asked, and he jerked his head in Sebastian's direction. "He's not scaring you off, is he?"
Sherlock scoffed. "Sebastian? Don't be ridiculous."
"Good," Victor said, and then he smiled. "Couldn't find you for a while there. Thought you might have run away on me."
Sherlock chose not to point out that he had nowhere else to go.
After a beat, Victor said, "As drunk as Sebastian is, he's not entirely wrong. It might be good for you to relax a bit. Come join the party, rather than standing here like a wallflower."
Sherlock made a face. "Mm. Parties. Human interaction. Not really my area."
Victor gave Sherlock a faintly amused look. "Come on," he said. "A bunch of us are going to play Never Have I Ever. You can join us."
"Never Have I Ever?"
"Drinking game. You say something you've never done, and anyone who has done it has to drink."
"Sounds thrilling," droned Sherlock. Victor rolled his eyes.
"It's a great way to find out people's deepest, darkest secrets and get smashed in the process. Come on, please?" After a pause, he added, "You probably won't even get that drunk. You've done really obscure things and you haven't really done any of the things that are usually the focus of these games."
"You know, been in a relationship. Slept with someone. That sort of thing."
Sherlock averted his gaze briefly, though Victor made the statement with no hint of mockery in his tone. "All right," he said after a pause. "Fine. But only because I can recognise the benefit of finding out other people's secrets."
Victor grinned. "Great!" he said, and he grabbed Sherlock's wrist to drag him over to the forming circle of game-players.
As they moved through the crowd, Victor seemed to try to collect anyone else who he believed might be interested in playing the game. He tapped people on the shoulder as he passed, saying the name of the game and gauging whether or not they were interested in playing. Some of them were, and moved towards the game-players when Victor jerked his head in that direction, while others shook their heads and refused. Victor did not bother trying to convince these people. Perhaps that was for the better, Sherlock thought – there were too many people at the party for everyone to play.
They walked past a blonde man, a couple of years older than Sherlock, who was looking around with a slightly concerned expression on his face. Sherlock couldn't help but notice that something about him seemed familiar, though he was not sure that he had really seen this man before.
"Watson!" said Victor, grabbing the young man's arm to get his attention. "Come play Never Have I Ever with us."
"Can't," Watson said apologetically. "I'm driving."
"You don't have to drink," Victor said. "Grab a soft drink or something. We won't tell anyone it's not alcoholic."
Watson seemed to smile slightly at that, though it didn't reach his eyes. He looked over his shoulder, looking around the party. "I need to go find my sister first. Have you seen her?"
Sister. That was why the young man looked familiar. Sherlock had not seen this Watson before, at least not tonight, but he had seen someone who looked quite familiar to him. Someone who shared his features.
"Your sister is the one with red hair, correct?" Sherlock asked, drawing Watson's attention away from Victor.
"Yeah, do you know her?" he asked.
Sherlock shook his head. "No, but I can see the family resemblance. I believe your sister was up in one of the bedrooms."
He left the sentence at that, aware that pointing out that Watson's sister was up there with another woman might be a bit not good, but it seemed that was not a secret that Sherlock needed to keep. John asked, "Was she up there with Clara?" and at Sherlock's confused expression, clarified, "Short, brunette?"
It was a vague description, but it was consistent with what Sherlock had seen, so he nodded his head.
Immediately, he saw Watson relax, and he added, "Good. Okay, good."
Deduction: Watson's sister and the brunette were in a relationship that her brother approved of, and Watson must have trusted the brunette enough to believe that his sister was safe if they were up there together. Interesting.
"All good?" Victor asked, and when Watson nodded his head, he grinned. "Great! Now you don't have an excuse. Come play Never Have I Ever with us."
Watson looked thoughtful, and Sherlock thought for a moment that he was trying to come up with another excuse, but then he sighed. "Yeah, all right, lead the way."
Victor grinned, and he led them both through the crowd, coming to the circle of people in the adjoining room. Sherlock took a seat, with Victor on one side of him and Watson on the other, and he grabbed the bottle in the middle to re-fill his drink. He was probably wasting alcohol doing so. Sherlock knew that his experiences were very different from the experiences of his peers, and based on Victor's description of the game, he probably would not need to take very many sips.
Like Victor said, he probably would not get very drunk.
Sherlock got very drunk.
At first, the game played out just as Sherlock had expected it to. People chose fairly ordinary things to say, and many of those things were things that Sherlock had not done.
"Never Have I Ever been on a sports team." (Watson, Victor, and a couple of other faces in the crowd took a sip).
"Never Have I Ever watched Game of Thrones." (The majority of the group took sips, after making sounds of horror.)
"Never Have I Ever had sex." (A little over half of the group took a sip. Sherlock ignored the smug look that Sebastian was giving him over the rim of his cup.)
There were a few statements that did lead Sherlock to take a sip, such as "Never Have I Ever been overseas" and "Never Have I Ever run away from home" (the latter one also led Watson to take a sip beside him), but for the most part, each statement was something that Sherlock had not done.
The more alcohol people drank, the more specific some of those statements became, especially when it came to relationships. Sherlock did not understand why people were angry when he deduced who they had slept with the night before, because here they were, happily sitting in a circle and confessing to all the intimate activities they had partaken in.
After a while, however, somebody must have noticed that Sherlock was hardly drinking, and they decided to rectify that. Suddenly, the statements went on a very different path, and suddenly, Sherlock was taking drinks.
"Never Have I Ever stolen from the chemistry labs." Drink.
"Never Have I Ever conducted experiments unrelated to school projects." Drink.
"Never Have I Ever broken into a building." Drink.
"Never Have I Ever helped the police on an investigation." Drink.
After a few of these statements, Sherlock realised that they were designed specifically to make him drink. By that point, he had had a bit too much to recognise that he could opt out of the game at any time.
"Never Have I Ever seen a dead body," someone said. Sherlock tipped his head back to drink, and a handful of people in the group made a sound of disgust. One person made a sound of intrigue instead.
"Never Have I Ever set the chem lab on fire," said the next person in the circle. Sherlock lifted his glass to his lips before making the discovery that it was empty.
"I need more," he announced, shifting to get to his feet. He had only gotten to his knees when the world started spinning, and he swayed into the person next to him, who immediately wrapped an arm around Sherlock's waist for support. Sherlock vaguely remembered that the person next to him was the one with the red-haired sister, though he could not remember the man's name.
"I think you've had enough now," the man with the sister said. "You could do with some water, though."
"Water's not alcoholic," Sherlock said, and the man let out a slight laugh.
"No, it's not, that's the point," he said, before unwrapping his arm from around Sherlock's back, putting it instead under his arm so that he could help Sherlock get to his feet. "Come on, up you get."
With the man's assistance, Sherlock was able to clamber to his feet, though he swayed as soon as he was standing upright. The man's arm returned to its former place around Sherlock's waist to steady him.
"Easy there," he said.
Sherlock turned his head towards the man, trying to work out what his name was. What had Victor called him? Winston? Wilson? What-something?
"Whatters," Sherlock said, unintentionally speaking out loud.
"Whatters. What-something. Your name. Whatsy."
The man smiled a little. "Watson," he corrected. "John, actually. Call me John."
"John," Sherlock said, tasting the name on his lips. "That's boring."
John rolled his eyes. "We can't all have fancy names like Sherlock. Now come on." He put a little more pressure on Sherlock's back to get him to walk. "Let's go get you some water. You'll thank me in the morning."
Normally, Sherlock would resist, but with the amount of alcohol in his system, he found that he was much more pliant. Relying on John for support, he allowed himself to be guided through the crowd into the kitchen. John released him only when they were at a kitchen counter, so that Sherlock could lean on that for support while John poured him a glass of water.
There were two other men in the kitchen, having a conversation. They had to shout to be heard over the music, which meant that Sherlock could hear them too. One of them was telling a story of his girlfriend. Sherlock had only tuned in to hear the latter part of the conversation, but he could tell that the man's girlfriend was cheating on him. Could he tell that from the story? He could see that from something. That was a deduction. He wasn't entirely sure where the deduction had come from – but his brain would catch up soon.
"She's cheating on you," he said.
The two men turned to frown at him.
"No she's not," said the first.
"She is," Sherlock insisted.
"Dude, no one asked you," said the second.
"Well, you should have asked me, because I clearly know—"
"You don't even know Ash," the first man said, and Sherlock turned to frown at him. That was the stupidest thing Sherlock had ever heard, even though Sherlock could not see the relevance to the current conversation. Of course Sherlock knew ash. He knew 243 different types of tobacco ash. Did these men know 243 types of tobacco ash? Sherlock didn't think so.
"I know ash," Sherlock informed the men. The first gave him an unimpressed look.
"No, you don't," he said, and Sherlock straightened up, pushing off the counter so he could walk over to this man.
"I know ash!" he repeated loudly over the music. "Don't tell me I don't."
He punctuated this statement by poking his finger into the man's chest, which, as it turned out, was the wrong thing to do. It did not make these two men very pleased. They exchanged glances, and then one drew back his fist, and a part of Sherlock's brain processed the fact that he was about to get punched. The part of Sherlock's brain that was generally in charge of calculating the point of contact and determining the correct course of action to avoid the punch had not quite caught up yet.
Lucky for Sherlock, someone in the room did not have such impaired reaction times. A hand caught the fist that was aiming at Sherlock's face before it could make contact, and Sherlock looked over to notice that John had returned. One hand held the glass of water that he had gone to fetch for Sherlock. "I think that's enough," he said calmly, stepping in between them. This struck Sherlock as a dangerous move – would that not result in John getting hurt instead? However, John's presence seemed to have something of a calming effect on the two men. The one who had been about to punch Sherlock looked between John and Sherlock for a moment, before pulling his hand away.
"Sorry," he muttered.
"Consider it forgotten," John said, before turning back to Sherlock, pressing the glass of water into Sherlock's hand. "Come on. Let's get you somewhere quiet."
Sherlock nodded his head and went to take a step. He wobbled a little, and John immediately wrapped an arm around Sherlock's waist for support like he had done before, before gently guiding him through the crowd.
"Why did he listen to you?" Sherlock asked as they walked. "No one listens to me."
John's lips quirked up into a smile. "He's on the rugby team," he said. "Being captain has its perks."
They reached a door, and John knocked on it first, pushing it open only after he had not received an answer. On the other side of the door was an empty bathroom. Sherlock frowned.
"Why are we here?"
"Because you need somewhere quiet to sit for a few minutes, and I'm not sure if you'll be sick or not. Better not do it on Victor's floor, yeah?"
Sherlock continued to frown, but when John put a little bit of pressure on his back to push him into the bathroom, he went willingly.
John shut the door behind them, and Sherlock was immediately grateful that he had done so. He could still hear the music outside the bathroom, but the closed door muffled the sound, reducing the volume to something a little less deafening. Sherlock seated himself on the edge of the bathtub.
Without the game to distract him, he was beginning to realise that being drunk was not particularly pleasant. The room seemed to be spinning, and he felt quite ill. It seemed much messier than other experiences Sherlock had had.
"Think they were purposely trying to get me to drink," he said, looking down at his water glass.
John smiled a little. "You're just getting that now?" he said. "You're a bit odd, you know. Have you really done everything you claimed you did?"
"You've helped police work on cases?"
"I volunteer my assistance when they're out of their depth. Which is always."
"And you've seen a dead body?"
"More than one. That's unavoidable if you help the police."
John shrugged his shoulders. "You could have helped on non-murder cases."
"Where's the fun in those?"
John tilted his head to the side. "I'm not sure I'd call a murder case fun."
Silence stretched between them for a moment, as Sherlock sipped his glass of water. John slouched against the door behind him, and after a pause, Sherlock frowned.
"Why are you here?" he asked.
John shrugged his shoulders. "My sister thought I should get out of the house. And it's been a while since I've actually gone to a party."
"No, I mean, why here? In here? In the bathroom?"
"I'm keeping an eye on you."
John shrugged again. "Because I don't know that you have anyone else here for you."
The answer did not make Sherlock feel any less confused by the situation. "That hardly makes me your repons- responsibility."
"I know that," John said. "But, I don't know. No one should be stuck on their own when they get drunk. You need someone to take care of you, and I'm here."
"I can keep an eye on myself."
"No, you're drunk, so you can't."
Sherlock responded to that with a glare. At least, he hoped that it was a glare. John was a bit blurry. It was hard to work out exactly where he was supposed to be glaring.
After a pause, John said, "I've heard the guys at rugby talk about you a few times," he said. "I know you tend to keep to yourself. I don't want that to mean that you're left on your own, that's all. Doesn't make it my responsibility, but I still want to help."
Sherlock frowned for a moment, finding the idea that John – who is all but a stranger to him – wanted to stay with him almost impossible to believe. After a moment, he dropped his gaze down to his glass. "I'm not usually drunk," he said.
"I got that impression."
"Why aren't you drunk?"
John smiled wryly. "I'm usually the designated sober friend at these kinds of things."
"I've had a few negative experiences. Personally, I don't see the appeal."
"Oh," Sherlock said, and after a moment, he added, "In hindsight, I don't think I see the appeal either."
"Just keep sipping your water and don't have any more alcohol. You'll be fine."
Sherlock did just that, lifting his water glass to his lips and taking another sip.
Silence stretched between them for a moment, and John was the one who broke it. "So how come you're here?" he said, and then clarified, "At this party, I mean, not the bathroom specifically. You're obviously not a party person. No offence."
Sherlock took no offence, because John was right. "I'm not," he said. "Parties aren't my area. People aren't my area. I don't like people."
John smiled a little. "You don't like any people?" he asked. "What about Victor?"
Sherlock considered the question for a moment. "I don't dislike Victor," he said. "Victor is nicer than most idiots."
John nodded his head. "He is," he agreed, and then he tilted his head to the side. "So, you were willing to come along to his party just out of your friendship?"
Sherlock snorted. "No, of course not. I wouldn't be here out of friendship if I had a choice. There's nowhere else for me to go."
"I can't be around my family right now," Sherlock said, and then frowned. "I wasn't going to say that."
John shifted, and then he slid down to sit on the floor, back against the bathroom door. "Alcohol will do that to you," he said. "It's like a truth serum. Do you want to talk about it?"
Sherlock dropped his gaze to his glass and said nothing.
John continued, "I'm not going to force you to tell me, so, feel free to tell me to shut up. I know I'm a stranger. But I know you probably don't have anyone else to talk to about this sort of thing, and sometimes it helps to just have someone to listen. And, obviously, I'm not going to judge—"
"My father was having an affair," Sherlock said, cutting John off mid-word. He felt the blood drain out of his face as soon as the words left his lips, because he wasn't going to tell John that either. He wasn't going to tell anyone that. And yet, John was looking at him with a gentle expression, and it made Sherlock want to talk, to open up, to spill secrets that he was otherwise willing to take with him to the grave. Sherlock made a mental note to never consume alcohol again in the presence of someone else.
"I'm sorry," John said.
Sherlock shook his head and said nothing.
After a pause, John said, "I don't have the best relationship with my dad either, so I know what it's like to have someone who you're supposed to look up to do something to make you upset with them, or lose faith in them..."
Sherlock shook his head a little bit too vigorously. It made the world spin. "It's not that," he said. "It's not about my thoughts towards him."
"What do you mean?"
"Father doesn't want to speak to me," Sherlock said. "Mycroft doesn't want to speak to me. Mummy won't stop crying. I can't be there. I can't be around them, and none of them want me there."
For a long moment, John said nothing. Despite the fact that the music was still audible form the other side of the door, Sherlock couldn't help but feel like the silence in the bathroom overrode the sound. It felt as though it was the silence, and not the music, that was deafening. Sherlock dropped his gaze to the tiled floor beneath his feet. The floor was made up of tiny tiles, in mosaic-like patterns. Sherlock started to count.
He had gotten to twelve when John said, "You know it's not your fault, right?"
Sherlock scoffed, looking up without properly meeting John's eyes. "Isn't it?" he said. "I was the one who pointed it out – I told my mother, told everyone, about the affair. Mycroft has made it abundantly clear that that was my mistake, and that I should have kept my mouth shut."
"Whoever this Mycroft is sounds kind of like a moron."
"He's my brother," Sherlock clarifies, "and, unfortunately, he's not a moron. He's smarter than I am." A distasteful expression crossed his face. "I always thought I was slow, compared to him."
"Well, obviously, you're not slow," John said, "and obviously, Mycroft is still a moron. This is not your fault, Sherlock, no matter what Mycroft says. It's your father's, not yours."
"I should have kept quiet," Sherlock said, almost as though he had not heard John. "People are always telling me to keep quiet. People don't like my deductions."
"If your father didn't want you to point out that he was having an affair, he shouldn't have had an affair in the first place."
Sherlock dropped his gaze to the mosaic-like tiles again and fell silent for a moment. When he spoke again, his tone was quiet. "How do you know?" he asked.
"How do you know it's not my fault? You hardly even know me."
Sherlock did not look at John, but he could see John was trying to meet his gaze. Sherlock did not allow him to.
"Did you force your father to have an affair?" John asked after a moment.
Sherlock shook his head. "No."
"Then it's not your fault. It's as simple as that."
Sherlock glanced up at John only very briefly, and then he averted his gaze again. John was a stranger, a person who Sherlock had not had a conversation with before tonight, and this stranger was the only one who thought that Sherlock was not to blame. Mycroft thought Sherlock was to blame, because Mother would not have been upset if she had not known. His father had not said as much explicitly, but he had not said anything at all, not since Sherlock had made his deduction. It was unspoken, but the blame was there. And then there was his mother, who was crying. Sherlock's mother never cried, and yet Sherlock had seen tears spring to her eyes before she had excused herself, locked herself in the room and refused to come out. How was any of that not Sherlock's fault?
After a moment, John slowly stood from where he was sitting by the bathroom door. He approached Sherlock with the kind of hesitation that one might have if they were approaching a frightened animal, afraid it might skitter away if it was startled. He stepped over to Sherlock and then sat beside him on the edge of the bathtub, hesitating before placing a hand on Sherlock's shoulder. "It's not your fault," he said again, and Sherlock wondered if he was just repeating that over and over, to ensure that it sunk into Sherlock's head.
Normally, Sherlock would shrug off the hand and lean away on the touch. Normally, he would put on a cold, expressionless mask, and he would change topics, and that would be that. This time, however, Sherlock felt different. The situation itself was different, because normally, Sherlock would not have conversations like this to start off with. However, he had already had this conversation. Maybe it was the alcohol, forcing him to open up and making him feel different. Maybe that was all right.
Sherlock leaned into the touch and closed his eyes.
Sherlock did not know exactly how much time had passed, with the two of them sitting there in silence on the edge of the bathtub. John did not speak, or shift his weight, or do anything that gave Sherlock the indication that John had had enough and wanted to leave. Perhaps he was willing to give Sherlock as long as he needed. It did not make sense, why a perfect stranger would show so much kindness. No one else had ever treated Sherlock in this way. Sherlock did not think anyone would. He might not have had many friends, but he wasn't unheard of at the school. People would be surprised to know that the young man who sat in the bathroom and spilled his deepest secrets to a stranger because he was drunk was the same man that made thoughtless deductions that offended people and had set the chemistry lab on fire once or twice. No one would expect that Sherlock might, occasionally, need something like this.
Sherlock himself would not have expected to need something like this. He blamed the alcohol.
Eventually, Sherlock blinked himself back into reality, taking certain thoughts and locking them in a box in his Mind Palace, to be dealt with on a later occasion, when his judgement was not quite so impaired. He straightened up, and felt John's hand fall away from his shoulder as he did. Illogically, Sherlock felt as though he could still feel an imprint of John's hand on his skin.
"This is not like me," he said, as though he still had a reputation that he wanted to uphold.
"That's okay," John said. "We can blame the alcohol. I won't tell anyone, promise."
Sherlock had not feared that John would tell anyone, because that would be rather at odds with the character that John had shown himself to be over the last half hour, but the reassurance was nice nonetheless.
After a moment, John spoke. "You might wake up tomorrow morning and regret talking to me, and that's fine, but if you do need someone to talk to when you are sober, you can call me."
"Why would I need to call you?"
"No reason at all," John replied with a dismissive shrug of his shoulder. "But, if you want, I can give you my number."
Sherlock considered it for a moment, and then fished his phone out of his pocket and handed it to John. John did the same, handing his own phone over to Sherlock. Sherlock turned it over in his hands briefly.
Fascinating. Sister was an alcoholic. Perhaps that was the reason why John had stayed with Sherlock tonight.
Sherlock was not certain where that deduction came from. He had noticed something. Scratches on the phone, meaning his sister was an alcoholic. There was a deduction there. His brain would catch up eventually.
Getting drunk was not fun.
Sherlock put his number into John's contacts list, and then exchanged phones with John again. He could see John's name now sitting in his contact list. His chest felt a little bit lighter.
"Come on," John said after a moment, pocketing his phone and getting to his feet. He extended a hand to help Sherlock as well. "Let's go join the rest of the party. Can't stay in the bathroom all night. People might talk."
A ghost of a smile pulled up over Sherlock's lips. "People do little else."