"If music be the food of love, play on." - William Shakespeare
"...I insist upon your dining with us. It will be ready in half an hour. I have oysters and a brace of grouse, with something a little choice in white wines.–Watson, you have never yet recognized my merits as a housekeeper." - The Sign of Four
John is peering down the throat of a woman with the worst case of strep throat he's ever seen when his mobile goes off. Again. He could pick it up to check that it's important, and isn't just Sherlock phoning him to bemoan his immense boredom, but by now he will attest to the fact he can practically sense when the detective is lurking on the other end. Like his ring comes through in some subtly different tone that alerts John there is a high functioning (highly annoying) sociopath on the other end.
Stifling the slew of curses he'd care to berate his mobile with, John instead makes a concentrated effort to ignore the nagging ring to the fullest and focus on Mrs Morgan's inflamed tonsils. John is, after all, justifiably aggravated with the man far more than usual today. He wasn't expecting roses and champagne, but for Christ's sake, a heartfelt acknowledgment of their very first anniversary would have sufficed!
Scratch that. Yeah, a bit of romance would be fantastic. Doesn't have to be anything extravagant, because honestly, is a nice candlelit dinner followed by a night of lovemaking really asking too much? It's not every day they celebrate being together, and today is apparently going to pass them by as though it held no more value than a Bank holiday. At least Sherlock remembers those. He knows Sherlock is unconventional - that is part of why John loves him - yet he doesn't have to like receiving nothing more than a grunt from the sofa from his lover on their first anniversary.
It may be rather puerile (yet then again, so is his pain in the arse friend) but he makes up his mind that he's going to sulk properly over this at the nearest pub, just as soon as he gets off this never ending shift. And he is certainly not going to be persuaded to glance at that damned phone currently chirping some grating ring tone he has no recollection of downloading, not for all the champagne bottles and chocolates and rose petals in the world...
John is drumming his fingers atop the counter in the bar, engaged in a silent debate as to whether he should take more pretzels with his second pint when the accursed mobile goes off. He is teetering enough on the edge of drunkenness that he's able to identify the elusive ringer - "Need You Tonight" by INXS. Oh, god. He's been swallowed into a new level of hell.
After a staring match with the phone, which John loses, he checks the newest message.
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH MY EARS?
He shouldn't reply. It's their anniversary, he is being systematically starved for affection, and all that stupid tosser wants to know is where his damned severed ears have got to?
Sending that text is the most satisfying thing he's done in the past twenty four hours. Make it forty eight. John congratulates himself for his ingenuity. And orders a third pint.
A little blonde tart slides up next to him, batting her mascara laden eyelashes too close to his general direction for comfort. He smiles, awkwardly, then makes a mad grab for his mobile when it predictably goes off again. He's convinced himself it's merely a distraction from said blonde - has nothing to do with any great desire to speak with Sherlock.
COME HOME. WILL SETTLE FOR YOURS.
The subsequent reply is pounded out instantaneously, with a flush of alcohol to the brain.
PISS OFF =OÞ
REALLY, JOHN. DRUNK, ARE WE? THREE PINTS, NO?
DON'T CARE TO HAVE WOMEN FLIRTING WITH YOU. COME HOME.
It's not human, John thinks while typing an equally derisive insult.
FOUND WHERE YOU HID THE BULLETS.
Less than half an hour later, John's cab pulls up outside Baker Street, only for him to find the place in perfect darkness.
Mrs Hudson is distinctly absent, which is worrisome, as she'd not mentioned having any prior engagements that morning, and she consistently makes it a point to inform her two favorite "boys" when planning on going out. Definitely not asleep, either, since the woman's hearing rivals sonar technology, not to mention how John is causing a racket tripping over an inconveniently placed umbrella stand. He also may or may not have overestimated where the first step began, though he'd never have otherwise given that ancient stair rail credit for being so remarkably sturdy.
John flips the light switch just outside their flat approximately eleven times before accepting the fact that the circuit breakers are blown, or more likely, Sherlock has managed to do something vaguely horrible to the electricity in the name of scientific progress.
The flat itself is, for all appearances, empty, which is about when John's frustration melts into worry - they do live life teetering on a precarious edge, and that one of Sherlock's numerous foes may have finally pushed him off is not such a far fetched notion.
"Sherlock!" He calls out as he rushes through the sitting room, into the kitchen.
His phone gleefully trills out, the little square of light emanating from the screen illuminating the darkened space like a miniature torch.
Okay, this. Is crossing over into the realm of bizarre - not your normal definition of the term, either - but John now gauges the strange and outlandish by Sherlock Holmes' standards. Which, all things considered, is an extraordinary accomplishment.
John has given up on the hope of receiving any explanations, which leaves him with no other option but to pass back down the stairs going through the hall, even managing to not break his neck in the process, until he comes to the entryway leading into the mouldy basement flat. There's brassy light flickering beneath the crack in the frame, lending an eerie glow into the corridor. He doesn't even want to know anymore, so resignedly, pushes open the door creaking on unstable hinges, and steps inside.
Gone is the outdated peeling wallpaper, the mildew infested carpeting. The entire room, save for the fireplace, which is lit and seems to have been replaced with an antique wooden model, has a fresh coat of rich burgundy paint. The window is shrouded with a dark velvet curtain, and the room is illuminated by what amounted to several dozen high candles perched upon the mantle. The crowning jewel, however, lies in the very centre of the room. A table set for two, decked out with more candles and something that smelt very much like grouse - with oysters and white wine if John's nose did not deceive.
"Is… is this acceptable, John?" Is that uncertainty he's hearing?
Sherlock stands in the midst of all this, eyes lowered to the floor, hands clasped firmly behind his back. "You haven't yet given me any credit for my domestic abilities, but I cooked all this myself."
Meanwhile, the doctor is not too sure what to make of it. He wonders if he's fallen asleep at work again, and this is a dream his brain fabricated to shock him into wakefulness. It's also possible he's downed a few too many pints and this is the result. Him, lying comatose over the loo, imagination firing at full force, because Sherlock couldn't really have done this for him.
"John? If you don't like it I can -"
"No! No, god, no. This is incredible… I love it."
This earns John a genuine smile, and he gives one of his own in return as his friend holds out a hand to him. He's pulled in to a kiss, slow and searching, Sherlock, for a change, taking his time tasting his doctor's mouth. They never kiss like this, forgetting to come up for air, tongues gliding desperately in attempt to taste more, probe deeper. Neither can recall when long fingers twine through sandy hair, or strong at which point it was that hands fist at the back of Sherlock's shirt. There is no arousal stirred, no frantic need being sated, only the desire to savour the individual taste of a cherished lover.
Neither breaks the kiss, rather, they both pull apart, breathless and flushed and almost dizzy from lack of oxygen.
Sherlock guides him to the table, seizing his laptop from off his own chair before handing it over to John.
"Open your e-mail, I've sent you a link."
Obediently, he clicks said link, which takes him into an unfamiliar page on YouTube, by some user called "HoweverImprobable". When the video loads, there's no picture except a very crude one obviously scrawled in Microsoft Paint, depicting the letters SH 3 JW. He's faintly amused at this, until the music begins. That evokes another emotion entirely.
The piece starts off vibrantly, with drawn out arpeggios which give rise to high notes retaining an edge of softness that betray the mastery of their composer. The music surges into a feverish tempo before the final cadence sinks into a whisper as the last note is wrenched from the bow.
"You did this?" John asks, stupidly, unable to clearly focus on the lettering through a haze of tears.
"You seemed to favour it the last time I played for you. I uploaded it while you were at work."
John says nothing, but reloads the page, sets the open laptop on the table and offers his hand to Sherlock, who raises a curious eyebrow. "Come here," he whispers, and the man does, as swiftly as if John had an invisible string tied to him. Which, if he comes to think about it, isn't all that much of a florid metaphor.
Taking him by the waist, the doctor laces their fingers together and buries the side of his face in the taller man's chest, perfectly placed so that he can hear the steady rhythm of his heart. Neither is a capable dancer, but that niggling fact doesn't deter them in the least. They're moving to their own tune, drunk on each other, and they haven't even tasted the wine.
The two men continue to sway against each other long after the music fades, the food's gone cold, the candles have guttered out. The detective's lips are glued firmly to his doctor's forehead, murmuring something soft, inaudible against his skin. They're so reluctant to loose this moment, they remain this way until the small hours of the morning, hours after legs have gone stiff and both begin to nod off in the embrace.
Sherlock ends the night with a kiss - well, no, it wouldn't be accurate to suggest that is quite how their night ends, but one supposes they do deserve a trace of privacy. The actual ending concerns more rigorous efforts at convincing the other of their love, but that, as they say, is an entirely different story...