Disclaimer:If you recognise it, it was probably created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and/or the BBC's talented Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss.
Author's note: Okay, a couple of things. First of all, sorry for not updating this in months. Got beset by illness, then overtime, then international travel (including going on a wonderful Sherlock Holmes walking tour in London!), all of which rather sapped both time and muse.
Secondly, this is the concluding chapter of this fic, but not the story of Sherlock and Seona's relationship. I have some other ideas to explore, but they called for different viewpoints and since this fic has been exclusively from Sherlock's viewpoint it didn't sit well with me to just tack them on here. So keep an eye out in coming weeks (hopefully) for new stories. Assuming it goes to plan, the next one will involve Mycroft.
Lastly, I also have an idea for a new project. It will be "original series" Sherlock – based off ACD's marvellous work rather than the TV series – but it comes with a request. I have a first idea of the opening act that brings Holmes and Watson into the case. I have a reasonably good idea of what the resolution should be. What I've discovered, however, is that I suck at writing mysteries. The whole laying out the clues and figuring out the logical steps from one to the other just isn't working well for me. So I'm hoping for someone to be willing to act as creative consultant for that aspect of things. If you can help me get a good mystery nailed down you'll get credits in the fic and virtual brownie points (which can later be traded in for virtual brownies) and the lovely warm feeling of knowing you're amazing. So any takers?
Finally, sorry this author's note has gone on for so long. On with the story!
John was already in the kitchen making toast when Sherlock wandered out. Seona had gone to have a shower, claiming that if she was going to have to wear the same clothes as yesterday she could at least be clean first. This suddenly posed a problem for the detective, as for the first time he was uncomfortable to find himself alone with John. What should he say? What could he say? They hadn't exactly tried to keep their voices down the previous night, so the chances of John not knowing what had taken place were slim. He knew from the brief not-quite-a-conversation in the middle of the night that John didn't disapprove of the two of them as... as partners, but what did one say to one's flatmate after a night like that? The only thing that floated through Sherlock's mind was "Sorry about the noise", and even he knew that probably wasn't appropriate.
Unexpectedly, John solved the dilemma by asking, "Did you ask her if she wanted a cup of tea?" Sherlock shook his head mutely. The doctor shrugged. "Never mind. There's water in the kettle if she wants some when she's out. How about you? Tea?"
"Thank you." Sherlock lowered himself into a chair and watched his friend potter about the kitchen. He was still uncertain, which was an uncomfortable and unfamiliar feeling for him, although it was a good sign that John seemed to have accepted her continued presence in their flat without question.
John handed him a mug, then sank into the chair opposite and rested his elbows on the table. "Is everything okay between you two?" he asked, concern lacing his voice. "I mean, I assumed things were going well when I heard..." The older man cut off that sentence abruptly, his cheeks flushing as he realised where that sentence was headed.
Oddly, it was easier for Sherlock to find the words now that John was feeling uncomfortable too. He shook his head. "No, everything's fine. More than fine in fact." It was difficult to keep the grin from his face at the thought, and he saw that John relaxed at the sight. "I'm just not sure what I should say about it. To you, especially. I understand that it's usually expected for friends, especially flatmates, to..."
"No, Sherlock." John cut him off and reached over the table to give his arm a brief squeeze. "I'm certainly not going to expect the usual blokey talk from you. It's enough to know that you're happy, and that she's happy." He grinned and wrapped his hands around his own mug of tea before adding, "And with any luck this means you won't give me such a hard time when I want to spend time with Sarah."
Sherlock snorted. "I only give you a hard time, as you put it, when there's something more interesting or constructive you could be doing."
John nodded solemnly, although he was obviously fighting to keep the smile from his face. "Interesting and constructive. Of course. Like coming back here to send a text for you because you can't be bothered getting out of your chair to look up the number. Or going shopping because you don't even know what the inside of Tesco's looks like. And let's not forget providing you with diversion because you're between cases and bored." The two men locked eyes across the table for a moment, then burst out laughing.
"Yes, yes, all right." Sherlock waved his hand as if to brush the comments aside. "And I suppose you think that it's a matter of perspective as to whether those things are more interesting or constructive than you going out for dinner with Sarah." John grinned and nodded emphatically. The detective heaved a melodramatic sigh. "I can't promise anything, mind."
"Of course. Wouldn't expect anything less." John was still grinning. After a moment, though, his expression eased to one of curiosity. "Do you remember the conversation we had that first night? In Angelo's before we went racing off after the cab?"
The detective nodded, his lips twitching as he followed the line of questioning to its obvious conclusion. "When you asked me if I had a girlfriend and I told you it wasn't my area," he concluded.
Now it was John's turn to nod. "And then when I asked if you had a boyfriend you just said no. So I assumed..."
"I know what you assumed. I was content to let you assume it. It was easier than having to go through a conversation about the real situation." Sherlock sat back and regarded John with a wry smile. "Do you have any idea how difficult it is for most people to believe that a man isn't so much not interested in women as not interested in anyone? Which I wasn't. When I said 'not really my area' I was speaking of... intimate relationships. Not one gender or the other specifically."
John cocked his head to one side as he considered this. "You're right," he said at last. "I don't think I would have understood that. Not then. After knowing you for a year I can believe it though. Which of course leaves the obvious question: what's changed?"
Sherlock took a breath to reply but let it out in a long sigh instead. "I don't know. I don't understand any of this." His sipped meditatively at his tea for a few moments, then asked, "What was it like when you met Sarah?"
A tender smile stole over John's face and Sherlock was a little surprised to find it didn't annoy him as much as it usually did. "It's difficult to explain," the doctor began. "It wasn't anything particularly conscious. Just a feeling of connection, if that makes sense. A feeling that here was someone I wanted to get to know better. The observation that I found her physically attractive didn't hurt either I guess. Then as I did get to know her I found I liked so many things about her besides her looks. She was smart, and funny, and genuinely warm and caring, which is surprisingly rare in doctors these days. And she seemed to like the same sort of things about me."
As John's words trailed off, Sherlock pursed his lips in thought. It turned into a small smile a moment later as he realised this was one of John's unconscious habits. "That sounds very... gentle." He shook his head. "I don't think that really describes my experience."
John snorted. "Doesn't surprise me. You're not usually given to paying attention to emotions. For you to have not only noticed but acted, it must have hit you like a tonne of bricks!"
Sherlock managed to glare at him for exactly five seconds before they both dissolved into giggles again. The laughter drained away the last of his worry. It didn't matter if he couldn't figure it out right now. He had time.