Title: Chow Mein, Deductions and Realisations
Disclaimer: Are not, and never will be, mine.
Warnings: Swearing. Adultery and all that.
Spoilers: The usual.
Summary: Written for this kinkmeme prompt: Sherlock and John go out to dinner together, Sherlock amuses himself (and John) by deducing embarrassing and/or immoral details of the relationships between people at other tables. One night, though, John points to a couple that turns out to be sickeningly in love, faithful, completely happy together - boring, in other words, expect that as Sherlock deduces things he realizes that the tells he is describing also describe he and John. Super bonus points if they aren't together and John makes the connection before Sherlock does.
"And that one over there," Sherlock says, pointing with a chopstick, "Is a struggling banker with money troubles, who is probably just about to get a text from his wife confronting him about his affair with their housekeeper."
John glances over to where Sherlock is pointing, at a mousy-faced man in a faded suit, looking harassed and eating nothing. "How could you possibly know that?" he asks.
Sherlock bites into a spring roll. "His cufflinks," he says with his mouth full.
John looks back over his shoulder. The man's phone is ringing, and the man gives it a nervous look before he picks it up and answers.
The phone erupts into screaming and shouting, and the man's voice carries over to their table as he says, "What - no, of course I - what do you mean she told you - honey, no look, honey, she - well, she's lying - no, no of course I'm not undermining - look will you just shut up a minute - hello? Hello?"
The phone goes dead. The man swears and throws the phone on the table. John can't help it; he giggles outrageously into his chow mein. Sherlock grins mischievously and eats another spring roll.
"How?" John asks when he gets his breath back.
Sherlock taps his chopsticks against the side of his plate thoughtfully. "His suit is several years old, but his cufflinks are new and made of diamond. Someone gave them to him. He's looking harassed, and his wedding ring is sitting on the table instead of on his finger - marital problems then. Perhaps the cufflinks were a present from a lover, and perhaps his wife saw them and realised the existence of said lover. The cufflinks are very much his style, flashy and chunky, so there is a possibility that whoever the lover is is close to the family and knows what he likes, further proven by the fact that his suit, although shabby, is perfectly laundered. If their marriage is in trouble, it's unlikely that his wife will spend so long looking after his clothes. Housekeeper is the lover then. The wife would have seen the cufflinks, either mentioned it to the housekeeper and the housekeeper confessed or she guessed it was the housekeeper and confronted her. Either way, the man was checking his phone so often that it was obvious he knew he was about to get found out."
John stares at Sherlock. "Brilliant. That's brilliant."
Sherlock gives him one of those looks, the typical look he flashes at John when John has said something complimentary about him. As if he is not quite sure whether John is being serious or not, as if he has to check to see if John is actually mocking him. It is a vulnerable look, for all its brevity, and it always makes John's heart twist painfully. He wonders just what sort of responses to his deductive abilities Sherlock has had to endure before John came along.
He picks up another strand of chicken to distract himself and looks around the rest of the restaurant for another victim. There is a couple sitting a few tables along from them, a tall, dark-haired man and smiling, blonde woman. He points sidelong at them. "All right, what about them?"
Sherlock gives them a fleeting glance. "Date," he says flatly, more interested in his egg-fried rice.
John rolls his eyes. He would be able to deduce that. They can't keep their eyes off each other's faces, they are smiling a lot and yes, they have a candle on their table. "More," he insists. Much as he hates to admit it, this is quickly becoming his favourite game, watching Sherlock examine and take apart people around them with one perceptive glance. He learns so much about people this way. He learns so much about Sherlock. What he notices first, what he notices last, what he deems important, what he deems unimportant, how he does it - it is all incredibly, addictively fascinating.
Sherlock sighs, but John knows him better to think that he is getting bored of this, Sherlock is one man who just cannot help showing off at every available opportunity. He watches as Sherlock puts his chopsticks down, rests his chin on his hand and narrows his eyes at the couple. His eyes, usually a grey-green, are burnished copper by the candlelight, and the few stray curls around his ear are tinted amber at the ends, and for some reason John can't stop staring at them.
After about ten seconds of concentrated gazing, Sherlock looks back at John and picks up his chopsticks again. "Right," he says. "They're on a date, their first date, but they've known each other longer than now, as friends, close friends, perhaps for a year or so. Something has changed though, perhaps something dramatic, perhaps something subtle, and now they're giving the relationship thing a go. They're both nervous, the man more so because he thinks he has more to lose if it goes wrong. In fact, it's probably him who realised the first, but kept quiet because of this. He doesn't need to worry though, because they are perfect for each other." He bites down on his rice triumphantly.
John looks at the couple, but he can't process much more than he originally noted. He grins and shakes his head, going for a noodle. He will never, ever get over Sherlock's brilliance, he privately thinks.
"Go on then," he says, realising he is smiling fondly and quite unable to stop.
Sherlock waves a hand distractedly. "They're quite nervous, they're sitting very separate from each other, nothing touching, so this is definitely a first date. However, they're being too familiar for a first date as well, so they must have been intimate with each other before."
"How do you know that?"
"They're leaning very close to each other, despite the lack of contact, and quite naturally, as if they're use to it. And they're stealing bits of food from each other's plates - are you going to eat that?"
And he promptly takes a piece of John's chicken from his chow mein and pops it into his mouth.
John stares. Sherlock continues as if he hasn't moved at all. "Which they wouldn't do on a first date. A later date, yes, but not now. Oh, and they're touching now, just a little, showing they're getting more comfortable with their new arrangement."
John looks back over to the table. The man's fingers are just brushing the woman's. He looks down, with no small amount of panic, at Sherlock's hands, but they are resolutely next to his plate. John relaxes, without realising that he was even tense.
And then Sherlock's ankle brushes against his.
John freezes. Sherlock's ankle is covered by his sock but John can still feel the heat burning against his leg. He glances up at Sherlock, but the man is apparently too intent on his rice to notice anything is amiss, and God, was Sherlock always sitting this close to him…? They're leaning towards each other so close that their heads are practically touching, and yet John didn't notice, has never noticed, because they always sit like this, don't they, now that he thinks back, they always sit this close…
He looks nervously over at the couple. Yes, they're sitting just as he as Sherlock are. He frantically rewinds Sherlock's little speech over in his head, difficult when Sherlock's ankle is still pressed against his.
"How do you know the man is more nervous?" he says, his throat suddenly dry. Why is his throat so dry? He feels almost as tremulous as that blonde woman looks, for gods sake!
Sherlock sniffs. "Oh, little tells. The woman is controlling the conversation, but the man makes sure to give her his undivided attention, and when he speaks he stares right at her, as if she is the only one in the world, and he chooses his words very carefully. More often than not, he makes her laugh, and when he does smile, he does it properly, and only for her. When she's not looking, though, he looks at her with a mixture of fondness and panic, showing he is extremely worried about losing her friendship. She knows nothing about this, of course."
John's heart plummets to cold, cold depths and stays there. He has quite forgotten his Chinese, he can only sit and stare at Sherlock as he comes out with all of this, and his pulse is racing, he can feel it…
Sherlock's ankle is still pushed against his, he is still leaning towards John, and John wonders suddenly how he didn't notice it before, all those looks, that concentrated stare, those smiles that he would get even while Sherlock was shouting at numerous police officers - even if Sherlock is at his most moody, if John has said something even only half funny, he gets a smile. He gets listened to and responded to.
There is a lump in his throat, his chow mein is getting cold in front of him, but there is only one thing he can think on.
"You said he didn't need to worry," he says, "Because they're perfect for each other. That's what you said." Holy shit.
Sherlock is still ploughing through his rice - how can he not have noticed? - and takes his time eating before he swallows and looks up at John.
"They're utterly devoted to each other," he says. "You can tell by the way they watch each other, they stare at each other, there is constant eye contact. You might see that during the first six months or so of the relationship, but not afterwards. They have stayed besotted. And look at the woman - " He points quite openly now but apparently the couple are too wrapped up in each other to notice them. "She's staring, mostly at his eyes and his hair - she's probably contemplating what he looks like in the candlelight."
John winces at this, actually winces - this is exactly what he was doing before this whole fiasco began, he couldn't keep his eyes away from Sherlock, did he look like her? Did his eyes go as wide as hers are? Bloody hell, bloody hell -
"It's going well, she's going to kiss him," says Sherlock, breaking unceremoniously through John's thoughts. He turns his head to look at John, and John could swear his eyes have got darker, his lips have more copper and amber in them than before. "Her hands have slid forward on the table," says Sherlock. "So she's going to kiss him."
John looks at his hands. They have slid forward.
He doesn't think twice; he leans across the cold chow mein and the egg-fried rice and clashes his mouth against Sherlock's.
He thinks in retrospect that he should have known when Sherlock didn't even flinch away that something was suspicious, but to be fair, his mind was on other things at the time.
It is when he pulls away, after a long, heated battle of tongues, his mind awhirl, that he realises something is up. Sherlock is grinning, and in that smug, self-satisfied way that he has when he has made John realise something he really should have realised before.
"Knew you'd get there eventually," he says, like he did when John deduced about the points in that Bruce-Partington debacle.
John gapes. "What?" he splutters, but Sherlock is already extending a head to the couple on the table.
"Good work, you two," he says to them. John stares over at the dark-haired man and blonde woman. They are grinning at them. "Cheque's in the post," Sherlock assures them.
They leave. John stares at Sherlock.
"You ba - " he starts, but before he can get the curse out, Sherlock has already wound a hand behind his neck and is pulling him down for another hot, heavy, mind-obliterating kiss.
John doesn't even remember that he is angry with Sherlock until it is far too late to do anything about it.